A fellow on an SUP encountered a baby orca off of Auckland, New Zealand and he quickly paddled towards it. He jumped into the water to get an underwater shot and that's when mommy orca came by and guided the youngster away.
How close is too close when you encounter whales?
Fisheries and Environment Canada recommend that vessels (and that includes kayaks) should stay a minimum 100 metres away from whales. Don't approach from in front or behind, only from the sides.
But what about New Zealand regs? They seem a little looser:
When boating in the vicinity of killer whales, common sense rules apply and regulations exist so as disturbance and danger are minimised.
Orca are predators with quite a reputation, but no records exist of deliberate fatal attacks on humans. It still pays however, to show respect around these animals. General rules are outlined below:
- Operate your boat slowly and quietly at “no wake” speed
- Manoeuvre your boat sensitively near dolphins. Do not obstruct their path, cut through a group or separate mothers from calves
- Avoid sudden noises that could startle the animals
- Co-operate with others so all may see the dolphins without putting them at risk
Aircraft should also maintain a safe distance of at least 150 metres from killer whales and should not fly directly overhead.
New Zealand regs actually don't offer a minimum safe distance for watercraft, only a 150m safe distance for aircraft. However, they do say that you should "manoeuvre your boat sensitively near dolphins. Do not obstruct their path, cut through a group or separate mothers from calves" which is exactly what this clownhead was doing. Paddling as hard as you can towards a baby orca? Oh yeah, that's harassment.