Judie Johnson was enjoying a swim in the ocean off the coast of Coromandel, New Zealand, when she was greeted by some unexpected visitors. When Johnson saw a huge shape swim under her, she assumed it was a dolphin. She soon realized, however, that a pod of orca whales was swimming alongside her.
At first, Johnson was scared and thought her black wetsuit might lead the whales to mistake her for seals, which are common prey for them. She decided she should get out of the water. But she eventually decided to take the risk and complete her swim, and she was glad she did. She found the experience of being so close to the majestic animals to be awe-inspiring.
“It was so different to anything that’s happened to me before, and I thought, no, this is a life-changing experience,” she told News 1. “They were as interested and curious about me as I was about them.”
Dylan Brayshaw, an Australian tourist, saw the amazing encounter unfold from the beach and caught it on video via a drone. Check out the amazing footage in the clip below, posted to Facebook by ABC News:
Wow! As you can see, the three orcas showed no sign of aggression as they swam peacefully around Johnson. According to orca expert Regina Eisert, Ph.D., the mammals pose little risk to humans.
“Killer whales are the largest of the dolphin family so they are just big dolphins with a fancy paint job, and we all know dolphins are very, very smart and very playful,” she told the news outlet.
Orcas are immediately recognizable due to their distinctive black-and-white appearance. They are powerful predators that eat seals, sea lions, fish, squid, seabirds and even other whales. But even in the wild, they are not generally considered a threat to people.
Not gonna lie. We’re a little bit jealous of Johnson’s amazing experience.