Wellington free diver's 'surreal' experience with curious orca

A Wellington free diver has enjoyed a once in a lifetime experience with a curious orca after it investigated him while was underwater.

Nick Grobler told Newshub he was headed out with a friend for a dive on Wednesday evening when he suddenly realised the conditions were ripe for photography.

"I had taken my camera with me but had left it in the truck, after getting into the water and seeing the beautiful sunset and clear water I quickly realised I need to go back to get my camera," he said.

Mr Grobler was confronted with the orca pretty much as soon as he got into the water, but quickly realised it wasn't aggressive.

"At the time, I genuinely felt very relaxed as soon as I could tell it wasn't threatening and I knew it was just curious," he said.

"It swam past me a few times, slowing down and turning to look at me, catching eyes with such a massive creature where it notices you is a surreal experience I will never forget."

Mr Grobler said it wasn't the first time he had encountered amazing wildlife under the sea.

"I'm often out freediving/spearfishing, at least twice a week, so I'm often in contact with marine life - large fish, seals, stingray, crayfish and so on. It's a totally different world under the water."

Orcas were recently spotted in Wellington's Oriental Bay, leaving local residents delighted. However, it's best to keep your distance from the large dolphins, as they're protected under New Zealand law.

People shouldn't swim any closer than 100m to them and boats shouldn't approach closer than 50m. Actually harming, harassing or killing orcas risks a fine of up to $250,000 and two years in jail.


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