Orca Swims Under Boat Belly Up in Incredible Close Encounter in Puget Sound

An orca has been filmed swimming under a boat with its belly up during an incredible close encounter in Puget Sound.

The video was posted to TikTok by Piper, who goes by @disgruntledlumpfish, and shows a pod of orca approaching a boat in Washington State.

In the footage, an orca can be seen swimming upside down in the water, coming towards the boat.

"They're gonna come upside down by our boat right here," a woman can be heard saying in the video.

Orca Washington
A stock photo shows an orca leaping from the water in Puget Sound. A pod of orca were recently filmed swimming near a boat in Puget Sound, Washington. RobynPhoto/Getty

The orca then suddenly emerges from the water and turns itself around slightly, before dipping back under the surface, turning itself completely upside down again. The orca then disappears underneath the boat. A woman in the video gasps.

"He's going under!" she can be heard saying.

@disgruntledlumpfish

Had an amazing encounter with the T065A pod in the hood canal this week. The boat was parked further than the recommended distance and they swam up to our boat after hunting down a seal. You can see the seal in the mouth of one of the whale’s in the second clip #fyp #orca #transientorcas #biggskillerwhales #hoodcanal #wa #whalewatching #livelaughlabotomy

♬ original sound - Piper

The camera then turns to the other side of the boat where the orca has emerged.

"Oh my gosh!" a passenger can be heard saying.

Boat passengers can be gasping in awe at the huge creature, whose belly is now completely on display.

The orca then flips itself around and its tail is briefly visible before it disappears into the depths. In a second clip, other whales can be seen swimming near the boat. One orca can be seen with a freshly killed seal in its mouth. Piper wrote in a caption to the TikTok video, that the "amazing encounter" occurred just after the pod had hunted seals in the area.

The footage was taken at the Hood Canal, a fjord in Puget Sound. Puget Sound is known for its orca sightings. The pod in the footage is known as T065A—a family of transient orcas that travel in waters around the San Juan Islands, the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound—according to Piper.

In Puget Sound, whale watchers and their boats must stay 200 yards away from any orca—the species is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Piper said in a caption to the video that the boat had been parked "further than the recommended distance," but the orca swam straight for it anyway, following their hunt.

Orca are known for being formidable predators but do not generally harm humans in the wild. However, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fisheries, they are still "wild, unpredictable animals" and move "surprisingly fast," meaning it is important to give them distance.

Orca sometimes swim upside down in order to target prey—by doing so, it can ensure prey cannot fight back when it turns itself back around.

The orca may also have been playing. Orca have been observed displaying playful behavior before, and approaching boats out of curiosity. Orca may swim upside down near boats in order to explore the area.

Killer whales have been appearing in record-breaking numbers in the Salish Sea, which includes Puget Sound, in recent weeks. A huge number have been spotted in Puget Sound, with more than 15 matrilines confirmed across 10 groups of orca.