Three men from California found themselves surrounded by a pod of killer whales on Tuesday, getting as close to the animals as possible in the wild after setting out in an inflatable boat measuring just 10-feet-long.
Eric Martin, his son, Cody, and David Lantos departed Southern California’s Redondo Beach and experienced a remarkable series of interactions with the killer whales off the Palos Verdes Peninsula, according to Grind TV. The water was so calm and clear that the group were able to capture astonishing footage of the four killer whales from both above and below the surface.
The whales, a family group cataloged as CA51, are famously boat-friendly and decided to investigate the dinghy as soon as they spotted it. The tiny craft, nicknamed the “bathtub” for its small size, was repeatedly approached by the whales, a behavior commonly referred to as “mugging.”
Researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who was aboard the nearby whale watching vessel Triumphant, photographed the group interacting with the whales. Schulman-Janiger, who runs the California Killer Whale Project, called the footage of the orcas the best she had ever seen from California waters.
— Stephen Burns (@sj17burns) January 8, 2015
The video captures the vocalizations made by killer whales both above and below the ocean’s surface. Though the orcas look serene while swimming, the topside footage reveals the chaos which ensues when animals as large as the whales approach a vessel as small and vulnerable as the dinghy.
Eric Martin, who had previously interacted with the same whales while aboard a larger vessel, expressed his surprise at the way the whales repeatedly approached his group.
“We all thought they were just going to swim under the boat… Little did I realize that the mother and Comet would decide to stop, face to face, just inches from David, who was holding the GoPro camera, and stare right at us.”
— Headless Gal (@HeadlessGal) January 9, 2015
Last week, an activist flew a drone over the tank of a killer whale in Miami, in an effort to videotape the orca’s cramped living conditions. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, the whale has been housed in the 35-foot-wide tank since it was captured in 1970.
The unique interaction comes amid a series of incredible sightings made over the course of this week, according to NBC News. While the whales are more commonly observed off Monterey, changing water temperatures are thought to have moved their prey to new areas along the coast.
After interacting with the dinghy, the killer whales were spotted two days later, heading northwest off Orange County.
[Image: Alisa Schulman-Janiger via Grind TV]