What makes for the perfect surfing experience? Is it a steady supply of clean waves? Watching the sun peek out from behind the mountains after a beautiful barrel ride? How about getting caught in an epic chase between a pod of transient killer whales and their sea lion prey?
That last scenario happened to describe the morning of a dozen lucky surfers near the Tofino, B.C. coast last Friday – lucky because most were smart enough to hightail it of the way before they became accidental Jonahs and also because it’s not everyone who gets a chance to witness nature at its most spectacular.
[ Related: Humpback whale scares paddlers with love tap ]
Video footage captured by Adam Chilton, a local videographer upon whom fortune was smiling down that day, shows the orcas surfacing around 150 metres from the shore in pursuit of a group of sea lions.
Also in the video: a group of surfers paddling to shore once they caught a glimpse of the scene unfolding behind them.
“It was a pleasant surprise, for sure,” Chilton told the Toronto Star.
“It’s no shock to see them… However, seeing them this close to surfers is something very rare and only seen a handful of times by locals in the past 50 years.”
People seem to agree. Since he posted it to YouTube on Tuesday, Chilton’s video has been viewed nearly 150,000 times and triggered a slew of enthusiastic and interesting comments on the message board below.
While they’re not believed to pose any real threat to humans (in fact, anyone who’s seen all 27 Free Willy movies knows it’s usually the other way around), experts and common sense dictate that it’s wise to clear out of the way when the gigantic mammals are in hunting mode, lest a surfer in a slick black wetsuit get mistaken for a sea lion in the heat of the hunt.
At which point one can only stand back and marvel at the awe-inspiring moments we’re sometimes fortunate enough to witness. This is definitely one of them.