Paddle Boarder Records Close Encounter With Curious Orca

A paddle boarder in New Zealand has recorded an unusual encounter with a juvenile orca, as the young whale trailed after him before taking an inquisitive bite out of his board.

Luke Reilly, owner of Luke’s Kitchen in Kuaotunu, which is located north of Whitianga, set out on his paddle board Monday morning after hearing that orcas has been spotted off the coast. As 3 News reports, Reilly managed to get roughly 200 meters from shore before he encountered one of the orcas, which took an immediate interest in him.

“Someone said there’s some orcas down the beach so I chucked the GoPro in my pocket because I had it surfing,” he recalled. “I grabbed it thinking something might happen. I didn’t think I’d get anything.”

Once away from shore, Reilly noted that several orcas were diving for stingrays near him. Unexpectedly, however, one of the orcas showed a distinct interest in the paddle boarder, heading straight for him and appearing just centimeters behind his board.

“I was a bit nervous thinking, ‘What’s this guy going to do?'” Reilly said. “Then he slowly crept up and grabbed the back of my board and I yelled, ‘What are you doing!'”

After following Reilly for roughly five minutes, the orca bit into the back of his board, before swimming off, according to Yahoo News. Though Reilly managed to capture much of the interaction on video, orca expert Joe Halliday, who is also co-founder of whale-rescue.org, expressed skepticism that that the orca bit into Reilly’s board.

“It looked like [it] was possibly… just coming up underneath the board to have a look, rather than actually nibbling… because if he’d nibbled, that guy would have fallen off the board for sure,” she asserted. “I just don’t see something that’s 8 meters-long with a massive amount of body weight coming up and nibbling without the guy falling over off his board.”

Recently, SeaWorld parks received a highly publicized citation after assertions that their trainers weren’t properly educated in dealing with orcas. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the allegations came after several trainers were injured, and even killed, interacting with captive orcas.

Halliday allowed that orcas are naturally curious, and that the animal which inspected Reilly’s paddle board was likely just wondering what it was.

[Photo: Luke Reilly via Mashable]