A GROUP of mates out on the water for a weekend of fishing have captured mesmerising footage of a pod of killer whales off the Hunter’s coastline.
The orca sighting was made by Billy-Jai Lawrence, who filmed the moment his fishing boat was surrounded by the pod of more than 10 animals.
The whales were about 40 kilomteres offshore from Swansea when they came up to swim along with the boat.
“I was on my mate boat called Reel Keen,” Mr Lawrence said.
“I have seen a lot of whales before but never killer whales. It was a very cool experience.
“I just put it up on Facebook to show my mates then had a lot of inbox [messages] and it just went viral.”
The video was provided to Marine Mammal Sightings Australia, an organisation which has recorded several recent sightings of the pod off the coast at Soldiers Point, Swansea and The Entrance.
Whale expert and Imagine Cruises owner Frank Future said the video footage captured a rare moment in local waters.
“It is not common to see orcas here,” he said.
“I’ve only seen them four or five times in the last 23 years.”
Mr Future believed there could be only one reason for the whales to travel so far north – food.
Seal activity in the area, as well as baby humpback whales on their way south, both offer easy pickings for the whales.
“It is more common to see them south of Merimbula,” he said.
“But to have so many orcas grouped together probably means they are hunting.”
A spokeswoman for the Office of Environment and Heritage reminded people to keep a safe distance from whales in the wild.
“People are reminded that the declared approach distance for non-prohibited vessels is 50 metres for an adult orca, and 150 metres for a calf.
“A person must not enter the water within 50 metres of any dolphin.
“If people see orcas off the NSW coast, they are encouraged to report the sighting to a local National Parks Office or to whale research and conservation organisations like Project Orca or Killer Whales Australia to help increase our understanding of the species.”
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