Incredible drone footage captures moment swimmer is surrounded by orcas
Since the release of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, no more than a few months pass without orcas hitting the headlines. It revealed the immeasurable cruelty these incredible animals are subjected to by focusing on the story of SeaWorld's whale, Tilikum, who was responsible for the deaths of three people, including trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
In the documentary, ocras' intelligence is revealed in all its magnificence - intelligence which, understandably, caused them to lash out after whales like Tilikum were ripped apart from their pods in the wild and forced to perform for food.
And despite the fact that Tilikum earned a fearsome reputation during his time in captivity, Blackfish emphasized the fact there have been no known instances of wild ocras harming humans - even if they are referred to as "killer whales".
Case in point, this incredible footage which has emerged of three orcas joining a swimmer for a morning dip:
True to their nature in the wild, none of the animals harmed swimmer Judie Johnson, although she was understandably frightened after three whales so big began swimming alongside her near Hahei Beach in Coromandel, New Zealand.
Fearing that they might have mistaken her for a seal because of her wetsuit, in the video above, an expert revealed that their harmless behavior was typical of wild orcas - even if a bystander was concerned because of what they've done in captivity.
Judy, however, is far from the only person to have a friendly encounter with sea life while swimming:
But now that we've established that dolphins and ocras are pretty friendly in the wild (they belong to the same family) are there any other underwater features that like to have fun with us humans? Well, the answer is yes, yes there are.
This is the adorable moment wild seal pups were filmed playing with divers:
Going back to orcas, thanks to the backlash Blackfish inspired, SeaWorld has ended its captive breeding programme. This means that in the not too distant future, people will only be able to see orcas where they belong: in the wild.
And it's not like ocras aren't willing to play in the wild - they just aren't forced to do it:
However, even though SeaWorld's captive breeding program has ended, instead of sending their captive whales to retirement facilities, or rehabilitating them into the ocean where possible, their live shows continue.
But the rehabilitation of Keiko - who played Free Willy - in the late 90s was a testament to the fact that it's possible. And even though he died five years after being released into the wild, those five years were arguably some of the best of his life.
For an insight into just how poorly orcas are treated in captivity, check out this clip from Blackfish below:
So, hopefully, people will continue to pressure SeaWorld into changing its business model for the better. At the end of the day, animals are not for our entertainment - especially when science has proven that their intelligence is comparable to our own.