Curious Orca Treats Fishermen to Exclusive Show

By Victor Westerkamp

A couple of delighted fishermen fishing off the coast of San Diego had a unique and free one-whale-show from an orca that followed their boat at high-speed.

Nathan Benge and his friends had set out on August 8 to fish for yellowtails and tuna when they spotted a group of killer whales about half a mile away from them.

Suddenly one of the whales broke free from the group and quickly appeared right next to the 21-foot fishing boat that was traveling at considerable speed.

“Out of nowhere one of them popped up right next to the boat three or four feet away from me,” Benge said to Good Morning America. “[It] landed, splashed me and splashed the whole side of the boat. I screamed.”

“Oh, it was incredible. I’ve never been that close to a creature,” Benge said, adding it was “just huge. I mean I could have reached out and touched it,” he said.

The orca kept following the boat effortlessly for about ten minutes giving the crew plenty of opportunities to make the video and also take some selfies with the majestic and acrobatic whale.

“We may not have found the tuna, but we did get a free, up-close and personal show from orcas, a handful of yellows, and great weather to make for an awesome day on the water,” Benge’s Instagram post read.

“Killer whales are naturally very curious and very playful animals. Certain pods will often come up to a boat and play with the boat wake, or the bow, [and] ride in the front of the boat,” said James Stewart, a whale expert and boat programs coordinator at The Aquarium of the Pacific, according to Good Morning America.

Encounters with these mostly human-friendly sea-giants leave an everlasting impression on those who have experienced it. They are not, however, unique. What’s unique is an encounter with a white killer whale.

A rare white killer whale has been spotted off the coast of British Columbia.

Jared Towers, an orca ecologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, says the young transient killer whale was first seen at the end of November and was spotted again May 17.

White orcas have been spotted a few times in the last century in the British Columbia waters but none of them are still alive, he said.

A rare white killer whale, shown in a handout photo, spotted off the coast of British Columbia. (HO-Department of Fisheries and Oceans-Miguel Neves Dos Reis/The Canadian Press)

One was documented in 1924 and a couple more were seen in the 1940s and 1950s, he said.

Another captured in 1970 was found to have a rare disorder called Chediak-Higashi syndrome. “Few individuals with the syndrome, which affects the immune system and causes partial albinism, survive into adulthood,” Towers said.

If a white orca does grow to adulthood, it more likely has albinism, a genetic condition where animals have no colouring, or leucism, a partial loss of pigmentation.

“It’s quite common. Lots of different species have it. I mean, it’s rare to see but it’s still well known,” Towers said.

“That’s probably what this little guy has,” he said, referring to leucism, noting that you can still see some pigmentation in the areas that would typically be jet black.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report