That probably changed after swimmer Will Gerard’s encounter with this pod of killer whales.
I imagine he was shaken up following the encounter. These magnificent creatures are apex predators:
An apex predator is an animal who, as an adult, has no natural predators in its ecosystem. The great white shark is an example of an apex predator.
Apex predators play an important role in keeping ecosystems in check. A study in 2009 showed that on land, or in the ocean, the removal of apex predators (intentionally or accidentally) can have dramatic impacts on an ecosystem, and result in even larger problems.
Though the creatures are scary, they were likely more inquisitive than anything. Plus they knew he wasn’t a mid-day snack:
“When I saw the dorsal fins and realized it was an orca I was so excited I didn’t have time to be afraid and get out of the water,” Gerard told The Marlborough Express. Highly intelligent hunters, orcas would “know the difference between a human and a seal,” said Roy Grose, a local conservationist.
It’s illegal in New Zealand to willfully swim with wild orcas, but that does not apply in this case. “The orcas approached him and that’s fine, there’s no problem with that,” said Grose.