PHOTOS: Golfers Stop Play as Orcas Surface Close to Shore

by Taylor Cunningham

During a trip to a British Columbia club, some golfers enjoyed a welcome interruption when a pod of orcas surfaced close to shore. An employee on a whale-watching cruise managed to capture the breathtaking encounter on camera and shared the images on social media.

The sight happened just off the beach of Victoria Golf Club on August 28. The famous Canadian course runs along the shore of Vancouver Island near Victoria Harbor.

As the orcas breached, a boat with Western Prince Whale Watching happened to be passing by. And a company naturalist named Elah Davidson snapped a few photos for Facebook.

“It was a gorgeous day on the water!” he began. “…We continued west with a report of killer whales close to Victoria Harbor. When we arrived on [the] scene, we were greeted by a group of Biggs killer whales known as the T60s, circling the reefs apparently looking for harbor seals. They hunted for about an hour before moving on. After they caught their lunch we were lucky enough to see a spyhop and a few tail lobs before they carried on, passing by some lucky golfers who could see them from shore.”

In one of the photos, you can see a golfer standing on the rocky, picturesque shore enjoying the view while two orcas seemingly swimming feet from land.

Davidson later spoke with FTW Outdoors and explained that transient Biggs orcas swim through the area each year. And another species, the critically endangered Southern Resident orcas, also passes through looking for salmon.

Pod of Orcas ‘Aggressively’ Attack Boat Near the Coast of France

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are an incredibly intelligent species. And like humans, they’re capable of feeling emotions like compassion, empathy, grief, and self-awareness.

Despite their nicknames, there has only been one report of an orca attacking a human. However, one day after the golfers witnessed the peaceful pod passing. Two people had an entirely different experience when another pod attempted to capsize their sailboat during what appeared to be an organized attack.

According to NPR, Ester Kristine Storkson was traversing the coast of France when the animals began “ramming the boat.

“They [hit] us repeatedly…giving us the impression that it was a coordinated attack,” she said. “I told my dad, ‘I’m not thinking clearly, so you need to think for me. Thankfully, he is a very calm and centered person and made me feel safe by gently talking about the situation.”

The killer whales relented about 15 minutes later. But they managed to cause extensive damage in that short time. By using a GoPro, the father and daughter were able to view the bottom of the sailboat. And “approximately three-quarters of [the rudder] was broken off, and some metal was bent.”

The Storksons were able to safely make it to port. At the time, they were attempting to sail around the world. But that plan is now on hold while they work to repair their vessel.