Campbell River's Michael Hack was looking for something special to do on his 30th birthday Monday but got far more than he could have expected when he had a close encounter with a family of orcas.

"It all happened so quickly that I wasn't really sure what they were doing," Hack told CTV News.

"I didn't know if they were going to play with our boats or had just come to check us out."

Hack was just wrapping up a four-hour kayaking trip with his sister and brother-in-law between Sayward and Telegraph Cove.

He was about five minutes away from their original launching point when Hack said the orcas started heading towards them.

He posted his video on his @michaelrhack Instagram account and said he knows he's fortunate to have experienced the encounter, which included one of the orcas swimming directly under his kayak.

"I've been lucky enough to live on the coast for most of my life, had lots of different whale experiences from boats and that kind of stuff, but never one right under my kayak," he said.

While Hack and his fellow paddlers are considering themselves fortunate, Marine Education and Research Society member Jackie Hildering is calling for some caution.

"This is a wonderful experience for the boaters but it can add to the pressure on the whales and we'd like to emphasize that it's the boater's responsibility – for all water-craft, including kayaks – to know the whale-wise guidelines and regulations," Hildering said.

Her recommendation for any others who find themselves in similar situations to maintain a 200-metre distance from the whales (400 metres at the lower end of Vancouver Island) and keep together as a group.

"Best practices include for kayakers to group up and remain stationary out of the path of the whales so that the whales have less to navigate," Hildering said.

More information on whale-watching guidelines are available here.