It had always been Callum Macnab’s dream to swim with orcas. But when he had the chance, he promptly stepped out of the water to just stand on the rocky shore and watch them go by.
“It was such a spiritual experience,” said Macnab, 25, of Victoria.
It happened while he and five friends were vacationing on Quadra Island on the weekend. He was in the water at about 5 p.m. on Sunday when four orcas swam within metres of where he was standing.
The entire experience lasted about 90 seconds, Macnab said.
He posted the close encounter on Instagram, writing: “Always told myself if I had the opportunity to swim with orcas I wouldn’t miss it — turns out our fight or flight instincts are pretty overpowering. “
A video shows Macnab moving onto the rocks as the whales came close.
Watching them from shore is “probably the best way you could have gotten an experience with them without disturbing them at all and they get to show their curiosity.”
Macnab is sure he made eye contact with one of the whales.
As the whales swam by, “I couldn’t believe what was happening and how lucky we all were,” he said of what he expects will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I really felt the intelligence of the creatures and total respect for them.”
He said one of his friends has a cousin who is a whale researcher and identified the group as Bigg’s killer whales or transients, often seen in nature films racing to grab seals for food.
Unlike fish-eating threatened southern resident killer whales, Bigg’s whales are thriving, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
They number about 500 and live between Southern Alaska and California.
Between 2012 and 2022, their population grew annually and more than 100 calves were counted.