In incredible footage captured, a woman is seen swimming in the ocean alongside three killer whales off the coast of Coromdandel in Hahei, New Zealand, on 4 December 2018. The footage, captured by drone owner Dylan Brayshaw, shows the extraordinary interaction between the swimmer, Judie Johnson, and three orcas as they encircle her and glide along beside her as she swims.
The video, initially shared on Facebook by BuzzFeed Video, went viral with more than 4 millions views.
Johnson, who is in her 60s, was swimming alone when they approached and told 1 News Now that she initially thought she had come across a group of dolphins only to realise they were in fact killer whales.
“There was a shape that went under me, like a huge shape and I thought [it was] dolphins and I was quite excited, and then I saw the great white colour on the back,” she said. Johnson initially felt scared when the orcas approached, deciding to exit the ocean. “I was also thinking, they eat seals and I’m in a black wetsuit,” she said.
However, after a few minutes she decided to return to the water and completed her training. Brayshaw said that he witnessed Johnson swimming towards the shore to escape the waters and was very surprised when she decided to go back into the ocean.
“The orcas circled her and she got quite the fright. She then got out the water as she was only 20m from shore. Some onlookers chatted to her about the experience and then to my surprise she got back into the water and swam back towards the pod, to, I assume, continue her training swim,” he said.
The orcas appear in the footage to be just as curious of Johnson as she is of them, as they swim around her in a friendly manner, the adult male gently investigating her feet.
The three orcas are believed to be an adult, a calf and a juvenile.
Brayshaw has shared the video on social media, explaining that he ensured the drone was at a safe distance as to not startle the marine life.
“I … launched the drone and filmed from a fair distance away making sure not to disturb the pod of orcas. What I witnessed was truly amazing” he said.
Watch the incredible footage bellow: