Video: Surfing killer whales stun divers in Mexico
For nearly an hour, a pod of 17 to 20 killer whales jumped, weaved and took turns swimming flat out behind Laura Howard’s video camera.
Her “Surfing Killer Whales” video, complete with her screams of amazement, is fast becoming a cult favourite on YouTube.
“I kept thinking, ‘These magnificent, intelligent creatures are having as much fun as I am,” Howard told the Star on Wednesday.
“It’s the first time I’d seen an orca in the wild.”
In fact, orcas are rare off the coast of La Paz, Mexico, where Laura and husband Rich, keen scuba divers and photographers, had gone to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. The dive captain pulled them out of the water when the pod showed up.
“Each whale would surf for two or three minutes, then veer off to the side of the boat and other one would come in,” she said.
There were four or five other boats in their group, but the pod would only chase the fast boat the Howards were in, with Laura hoping desperately she wouldn’t fall overboard.
How were the orcas different from killer whales in captivity?
“In captivity, I don’t think the whales would have the opportunity to swim full out,” she said. That and when a whale would surface, “I would get sprayed in the face with whale snot.”
Rich Howard described the biggest difference as the opportunity “to see them in a pod, in a family group. It’s breathtaking. It gives you such appreciation of the power of a beautiful animal.”
The Howards shot the video in July, 2011, but showed it to no one but family until a local TV station came into their home in Luz, Fla., for a story about their 12-year-old daughter’s Girl Scout troop and saw Laura’s still photographs of a surfing orca.