Killer whales aren’t called killer whales because they kill people. In fact, no wild orca has ever killed a human being, but considering how good they are at hunting their prey, it’s a good name. Knowing that, it would be understandable for the woman in the video above to be a little worried—that’s why, when Judie Johnson first noticed the whales in the water with her at New Zealand’s Hahei beach, she swam for shore. “There was a shape that went under me, like a huge shape and I thought [it was] dolphins. I was quite excited, and then I saw the great white color on the back,” she told New Zealand’s 1 News.
Dylan Brayshaw, an Australian surf photographer who happened to be filming at the time, watched the whole thing happen. “I was watching a pod of orcas swimming up the beach, I saw a swimmer swimming along shore directly towards them,” he explained on Youtube. “At this point, I asked my partner to get my mobile phone as I wasn’t sure what would happen and I may have to call for help. The orcas circled her and she got quite the fright. She then got out the water as she was only 20m from shore.”
Soon after, however, she decided to get back in the water and continue on with her swim, and to her delight, the pod of killer whales decided to rejoin her. “They were as interested and curious about me as I was about them,” she said to 1 News. “It was so different to anything that’s happened to me before, and I thought, no, this is a life-changing experience.”
See more from Dylan Brayshaw on Instagram.