Orcas interact with divers in rare Baja encounter; 'An epic day on the water'

Orcas interact with divers in rare Baja encounter; 'An epic day on the water'

Outdoors

Orcas interact with divers in rare Baja encounter; 'An epic day on the water'

Freedivers off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, were greeted by orcas Friday in a rare and magical encounter that lasted nearly three hours.

Video footage captured by Pelagic Safari Director Regi Domingo shows one orca remaining almost totally motionless in a vertical position for several seconds while being photographed by a freediver. (Freedivers do not use scuba gear.)

Orca inspects freediver off Cabo San Lucas. Photo: ©Pelagic Safari

Domingo told USA Today that the encounter occurred five miles offshore and that the sleek mammals were not aggressive and seemed as mesmerized as the divers were.

The company wrote on Facebook: “Believe it or not… Cabo San Lucas! An absolutely epic day on the water. Orcas in Baja are like the holy grail and yesterday we were fortunate enough to have three hours of playtime with a friendly pod.”

Curious orcas allow close encounters off Cabo San Lucas. Photo: ©Pelagic Safari

There were at least a dozen orcas, or killer whales, and all but one juvenile were females, Domingo said.

She added that this family unit has been spotted recently elsewhere in the Sea of Cortez, feeding on a type of rays called mobulas, as well as small sharks and humpback whale calves.

Orca holds vertical position as if posing for a photo. Photo: ©Pelagic Safari

The female orcas were protective of the juvenile male, but curious of the divers.

“They were exhibiting really interesting behaviors with us,” Domingo said. “They were staying vertical, checking us out. But they were super calm.”

They would drift back, and come back in for close looks at the divers. Some would open their mouths slightly while looking at the divers in what Domingo described as “strange movements.”

On Monday, the same orca family unit was spotted off La Paz, 70 miles to the north, but the Cabo San Lucas diving community is hopeful that the iconic mammals will return.

Mobula rays, known for their spectacular leaping abilities, are found throughout the southern Sea of Cortez.

–Images are courtesy of ©Pelagic Safari 

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