Swimmer who 'body slammed' killer whale branded 'stupid and reckless' after video shows him leaping onto orcas

22 May 2024, 08:46

The killer whale incident
The killer whale incident. Picture: Instagram

By Kit Heren

A man who tried to "body slam" killer whales has been criticised as "stupid" and "reckless", as he was hit with a fine of nearly £300.

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The unnamed man is seen in footage posted online jumping off a boat and into the sea with an orca and its calf.

The video shows him reaching out as he lands in the water, slamming into the water and coming close to the orcas, which have been known to attack humans.

The man can be heard saying: "I touched it", as his friends on the boat laugh.

The incident took place in New Zealand, and environmental authorities said the man had a "shocking and stupid attitude".

He was fined $600 (just under £288) for the stunt, the country's Department of Conservation said.

They said in a statement: "A man who leapt from a boat into the water near two orca has been slapped with a $600 infringement. The incident showed a shocking and stupid attitude to protected marine mammals.

"The video shared to Instagram in February, shows the man jump from a boat into the sea off the coast of Devonport – in what appears to be a deliberate effort to touch or “body slam” the orca.

"The man showed reckless disregard for his own safety – and that of the adult male orca with a calf swimming near the vessel.

Antarctic Orcas (Type A) (Orcinus orca) patrolling the waters off Macquarie Island, Australian Subantarctic, hunting for penguins
Antarctic Orcas (Type A) (Orcinus orca) patrolling the waters off Macquarie Island, Australian Subantarctic, hunting for penguins. Picture: Alamy

"We were subsequently tipped off to this video by a member of the public. We would like to thank those who continue to alert us to potential breaches of New Zealand’s wildlife laws.

"Anyone who sees an incident they believe may breach conservation legislation can call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)."

It comes after a series of summer attacks by orcas in the seas on the west coast of Spain and Portugal in recent years. Some 202 attacks took place in 2022, along with 197 in 2021.

Orcas are protected in New Zealand
Orcas are protected in New Zealand. Picture: Getty

The assaults cover a wide arc from the waters near the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain's north-western Galicia.

The attacks on boats seem to stop once the vessel becomes immobilised, and no reports have been made of swimmers being targeted.

Orcas even disrupted a sailing race last year, when a boat sailing from the Netherlands to Italy had a 15-minute encounter with the animals, prompting the crew to drop their craft's sails and raise a clatter to fend them off.