'I’m about to cry': Kayakers film close encounter with orcas
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Thursday, September 3, 2015 11:57AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 3, 2015 7:44PM PDT
A pair of kayakers filmed their incredible encounter with not just one, but several pods of orcas, swimming off San Juan Island last week.
Michelle Feis was kayaking into Roche Harbour, just east of B.C.’s Sidney Island, with a guide Aug. 26 when they came across as many as 30 orcas.
“We moved our kayak as close to the cliffs and in the kelp as possible to be out of their way and stopped paddling while we watched,” she wrote on her YouTube page. “But they were everywhere and we ended up being in the route of a few as seen.”
Some of the killer whales swam right underneath the women while others breached just metres from them.
“I’m about to cry. This is so cool,” Feis is heard saying in the video.
The orcas are believed to be from the J, K and L pods, as the women saw some calfs swimming in the group.
Marine biologists say the southern resident orcas have birthed four new calves this year alone, prompting U.S. authorities to send out patrols to ensure boaters are giving the mammals enough space.
Washington State laws prohibit vessels or other objects from coming closer than 180 metres to resident orcas.
Similar laws exist in Canada under the Species at Risk Act and boaters are prohibited from coming closer than 100 metres from any whales.
Two men in Washington State were recently fined for flying drones too close to a pod of orcas, the first such ticket of its kind.
Two orcas surface just metres away from a kayak in this video taken off San Juan Island, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. (YouTube/Michelle Feis)
In this photo taken July 31, 2015, a NOAA law enforcement patrol boat, right, is stopped near a recreational boat going past as an orca whale swims in view in the Salish Sea in the San Juan Islands, Wash. (AP/Elaine Thompson)