Orca Surround Small Boat as One Swims So Close Passengers Could Touch Fin

A family in Canada had a pod of orcas come so close to their boat that they could reach out and stroke their fins as they passed.

The moment was captured on film in the waters near Blanc-Sablon, Quebec, and was shared on TikTok on August 26.

"They were acting curious and friendly and came to each side of the boat. As we've grown up around them, we knew there was no danger in the interaction," Chanel Nadeau Beaudoin, who posted the video, told Storyful.

Despite their ominous name, killer whales are generally no danger to humans, and have never been recorded killing a human in the wild.

orcas boat
Stock image of an orca swimming near to a boat. Footage of a boat in Canada shows a pod of orcas swimming close enough for the people aboard to reach out and stroke them. iStock / Getty Images Plus

"There are areas around the world where people are in the water with killer whales not infrequently," Deborah Giles, the science and research director for the Washington state-based non-profit Wild Orca, previously told Newsweek. "There's certainly been ample opportunity for killer whales to kill humans and they just haven't. It's perplexing. It feels like one of life's mysteries that we're never going to know for sure, because we can't actually talk to them."

In incidents where orcas have appeared to be about to attack a human, they seemingly realized their mistake at the last minute and stopped, according to LiveScience. Additionally, there are various recorded occurrences of orcas being friendly towards humans, even playing with humans on boats.

Orcas tend to feed in their large pods of about 10 to 20 individuals, using teamwork to capture and kill fish, squid, penguins, and even great white sharks: a pair of orcas off the coast of Cape Town in South Africa are suspected to be responsible for a variety of great white shark corpses washing up with their livers carefully removed.

Orcas have, however, been known to attack boats: there have been 236 reported interactions between orcas and boats off the Iberian Peninsula since 2020. On July 31 this year, a pod of orcas managed to sink a sailboat with five people on board.

They are also notorious for attacking humans in captivity, a behavior that has resulted in at least four fatalities. Three of these deaths were caused by the same orca, Tilikum, who was captive at SeaWorld Orlando in Florida for 25 years. It is thought that his isolation in captivity led to mental issues that resulted in his aggressive behavior towards Keltie Lee Byrne, Daniel P. Dukes, and Dawn Brancheau, all of whom died by drowning or blunt force trauma caused by Tilikum.

"Killer whales are highly social and traditionally quite vocal animals. So, for an animal like this to be in such an unnatural environment most likely caused psychosis," Giles said.

"I personally believe that he was made crazy by the environment that he was forced to live in. It was probably not premeditated. There's no way to know that, of course. But he had interacted with Dawn Brancheau for years and years prior to that. I think that something snapped."

Tilikum's victims and the resultant critically acclaimed 2013 documentary Blackfish sparked a worldwide conversation on the ethics of keeping marine mammals, used to the open expanses of the oceans, in captivity pools. According to PETA, at SeaWorld the orcas are confined to a tank measuring a mere 86 feet by 51 feet, and only 34 feet deep.

In March 2016, SeaWorld announced that they would soon by ceasing all orca theatrical shows and breeding. As of 2022, visitors can still see orca shows at the parks.