If this video isn’t proof that orca whales are the coolest animals on the planet, we don’t know what is
In today’s edition of absolutely bonkers things we found on the internet, a man captured drone footage of a woman swimming laps off a beach in New Zealand when she was just casually joined by a group of orca whales. Most people probably would’ve pooped themselves right about at that point, but the woman actually just kept swimming while the whales splashed around her in playful circles.
Seriously, the video is wild.
Can you imagine? Just casually paddling around at the beach and all of a sudden there’s a full grown, mother heckin’ orca whale swimming beneath you?
And two smaller, younger orca whales?
I’m officially the most jealous person on the planet.
As scary as this would definitely be, the swimmer was statistically in zero danger. In all of recorded history, there have been exactly two instances of orcas attacking humans in the wild, and neither of the people were killed in those cases. Orcas are some of the baddest predators on the planet — they take down great white sharks, for reference — so they certainly could hurt humans. They just seem to make the conscious choice not to.
Take, for example, this surfing competition in Norway, where a whale looked like it was charging a surfer until it very suddenly changed course at the last minute. Marine biologists think the whale mistook the surfer for a seal, and when it got close enough to realize it was actually a person, decided not to attack.
No one’s really sure why orcas choose not to hunt or kill people, but we do know they’re extremely intelligent. They communicate extensively within their pods, and have displayed different dialects and cultures in different family groups. One possible answer is that the whales recognize our like intelligence and want to befriend us, not hurt us. There are instances of wild orcas bonding and playing with humans, like in the swimming video above. And trainers at ocean parks with performing orcas say they don’t need much training — they naturally seem to understand humans and want to create bonds with them.
It’s important to note that orcas have killed humans, but only in captivity. Biologists are pretty split on why — some think these are instances of play that got out of hand. Many others, as explored in the award-winning documentary Blackfish, posit that longterm captivity, isolated from their close-knit family groups in small pools, has a detrimental effect on the whales’ mental health, causing them to lash out at their human captors.
Anyway, in case you’re still not convinced that orca whales are the absolute coolest animals of all time, peep this video of a pod using coordinated splashing maneuvers to try to wash a seal off a chunk of ice in the arctic. That’s what we’ll be doing for the rest of the day.