Orca spins surfer around in ‘nightmarish’ encounter

Orca spins surfer around in ‘nightmarish’ encounter

Outdoors

Orca spins surfer around in ‘nightmarish’ encounter

A former fisheries officer in New Zealand was surfing alone off Makorori on Friday when a small orca he initially thought was a shark checked him out before spinning him around on his surfboard in a “nightmarish” encounter.

“I think it got caught in my 12-foot-long leg rope, which creates a big loop under my surfboard,” Martin Williams explained to the New Zealand Herald. “Next thing my board is spinning around with a decent amount of G-force.

“At this point I’m starting to freak out.”

Williams said he could see the orca swimming around underneath his longboard, which measures 12 feet, about the same size as the orca. He decided to remove the rope from his ankle.

“Next thing my surfboard was suddenly dragged down from the rear and I was hanging on with only about two foot of the board sticking vertically out of the water,” Williams said.

“And I mean I was seriously hanging on. Then the orca released the board and I’m thinking ‘I am not enjoying this encounter anymore.'”

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The orca either entangled its fin in the rope or possibly grabbed it with its mouth in what likely was a playful gesture. It then pushed the board around in circles, nearly forcing him to fall off.

Williams “paddled like crazy” for shore only to have the orca follow him and push his board again.

“At this point I was not too sure if I was a plaything or the next best thing to a giant turtle look-a-like dinner,” Williams told the Herald. “Either way, I was not happy.”

He paddled toward an area with surfers nearby in case he needed to summon help.

“As I looked behind I saw the orca following me just below the surface,” he told the Herald. “After paddling another 200 meters the orca disappeared.

“When you are by yourself, it’s not such a great experience, not when you realize how powerful these orcas are — even the smaller ones.

“It had a nightmarish feel to it. To be honest, it scared the living [daylights] out of me.”

Generic orca photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries.

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