Stunning Video Shows Pod of Killer Whales Swimming by Kayakers in 'Once in a Lifetime' Encounter

A group of kayakers experienced the thrill of a lifetime over Thanksgiving weekend, as they found themselves within touching distance of a pod of orcas in California.

Pals Erik Martinez and Tyler Jackson were part of a small group that took to the waters off Timber Cove, Sonoma County, and they managed to capture breathtaking footage of their close encounter with the whales, which proved an instant hit on YouTube and Facebook.

The duo, who described it as a "once in a lifetime" experience, explained that they were rock fishing when they saw the pod "deep thrashing and tail beating a seal."

Ramming and tail-slapping are hunting techniques that are commonly displayed by orcas. They can stun, injure, kill or even skin their prey in this manner, without risking injury to themselves. However, this behavior is also social, and taught to younger generations.

According to Jackson, there were around five or six whales in the pod, including two babies.

"I paddled on top of them and they circled and came right up to me a few times before hightailing it!!" he wrote on Facebook. "Definitely a pup or two in the pod looked like they were training the juveniles!"

"They were teaching baby how to beat up seals and eat them and then since we were close by they had to take a look," wrote Martinez.

"I feel like we were fortunate to have that interaction," he added, describing their decision to "intentionally" get closer to the pod as "maybe not the smartest thing but the decision was already made as soon as [we saw] them."

(Watch entire video) Today a pod of killer whales With a calf decided to investigate us up close and personal!!!😳😳😳 @kayakcityfishingteam...

In one of the clips, Martinez alternates between bursts of stunned laughter, commentary, and hushed attempts to calm himself down.

"Look, it's right behind Tyler. It's literally on him," he says as two of the animals break the surface of the water mere feet away from his friend's kayak, before one starts swimming directly towards Martinez's boat.

"He's coming my way now," Martinez says, tone shifting. "Don't paddle, don't. Stop. Don't make a noise, don't freak out." The whale then passes by, swimming directly underneath his paddle.

Another video shows the orcas below the surface of the water, calling out to each other and taking it in turns to breach the surface of the water. This is a type of behavior known as "spy-hopping," which orcas engage in when they're inquisitive or on the lookout for a meal.

In this case, it appears to have been the former, but a group of orcas has been carrying out attacks on boats off the coasts of Portugal and Spain.

orca killer whale
A female orca catches a herring as it swims in the Reisafjorden fjord region in the Arctic Circle, on January 13, 2019. A group of kayakers had an unexpected encounter with a pod of orcas in the water off Sonoma County on Thanksgiving weekend. Olivier Morin/AFP via Getty Images