A drone captured incredible footage of a woman being surrounded by a pod of killer whales.
To be perfectly frank, it’s OK to not be cool when a trio of killer whales shows up on your morning swim. Then again, that might be why Judie Johnson is still around to tell the tale of her close encounter. Floundering around like a panicked seal might have made her into a whale’s lunch.
Last week, Judie was swimming off the coast of Coromandel, New Zealand, when she was approached by a pod of orcas (also known as killer whales). Where a normal person would have swum for shore, Judie just kept going as though nothing was amiss. The whales kept getting closer and closer until they were right on top of her, with the largest getting close enough to nip at her toes.
"There was a shape that went under me, like a huge shape and I thought [it was] dolphins and I was quite excited, and then I saw the great white color on the back,” Johnson told TVNZ. "I was also thinking they eat seals and I’m in a black wetsuit.”
Judie has a point there: to an untrained eye, a human in a wetsuit would look an awful lot like a seal.
Thankfully for her, these whales were more curious than hungry. The largest whale is likely the mother, along with an adolescent and one calf, and they were all mostly wondering just what Judie was up to. They each get right up close to her with the calf and juvenile playing off to her right while the mother turns and seems to swim sideways while eyeing her.
At one point Judie stops to take a look at the whales following her and a large wave seems to push the mother orca nearly to shore. She then uses her powerful fins (the whale, not Judie) to quickly launch herself away from the bach, kicking up a large amount of silt as she does.
The whole thing was captured on camera thanks to a drone under the command of Dylan Brayshaw, an Australian tourist vacationing in the area.
As it turns out, Judie was actually in very little danger. Orca attacks on humans in the wild are extremely rare and none have been fatal. In captivity is another story, where some scientists believe orcas are smart enough to try to fight back against their captors.