Keen ocean swimmer has captured the life-changing moment he encountered a pod of curious orca whales.
Steven Morris was enjoying his regular swim around Mount Maunganui on Monday morning when he encountered a large pod of orca whales.
He was swimming with other members of the Tauranga Seamen Swim Squad through the Mount Maunganui channel coming into Pilot Bay when a pod of orca whales swam right past them.
"I was busy looking around, seeing if I could spot a seal or a stingray so I always like to keep my eyes open and then we saw a pod of friendly orca very close to us, a couple of them came up close and had a really good look at us" he said.
"Obviously you are not allowed to swim with orca whales on purpose but they came up to us". He added
The keen ocean swimmer captured the breathtaking footage of the orcas on his GoPro which he regularly swims with. The GoPro is attached to a device he puts down the front of his wetsuit. "I really enjoy filming sea life but usually only capture seals, rays and fish".
Morris described the encounter as a "dream come true".
The ocean lover, who for the past six years, has regularly swam in the ocean around two to three times a week.
Morris and other members of the Seamen Ocean Swim Squad also came face-to-face with a pod of orca whales back in 2017 but it was in the far distance. He described that experience as "magical" but did say it "freaked him out" because "they're really big...bigger than you think".
Since then, his love and fascination for the marine mammal has grown: "Ever since then, I've dreamed about a more intimate, up-close encounter like this".