28 Jan 2022

'Buzzing': Orca swims close to kayaking children

3:36 pm on 28 January 2022

A group of young kayakers are "buzzing" after an unexpected summer holiday close encounter with orca in Ligar Bay in the Tasman region.

Stephen Halcrow was standing on the beach watching his two sons and their friends kayaking and paddleboarding on Tuesday, when they spotted a massive dorsal fin.

The orca was one of a group apparently chasing stingray in the bay.

"It was a break in the weather - it was a wet day - and we went down for a paddleboard and a bit of a kayak and all of a sudden the kids were making a bit of a noise.

Halcrow caught the encounter on video as he called out to the kids to "chill out", hoping they wouldn't freak out as one of the orca swam through the middle of the group.

"It looked like a scene out of Jaws actually," he said

"They were just cruising around from bay to bay and searching for a bit of food.

"We were trying to keep a bit of calm and a little bit of composure instead of freaking them out

Halcrow's 13-year-old son Luke was on a paddleboard.

"He said to me 'I had a sudden pain in my chest' and I was thinking uh oh, this is what a heart attack's like, but he paddled pretty fast by the looks of it."

The orca were in the bay for about five minutes, and only one came into shore and did a sharp turn among the children, as if they were following something along the sea floor.

Halcrow said one of the kids came in shaking and crying, and the others were "buzzing".

"They had adrenaline buzzing through their veins, they were talking so fast and shouting and pretty excited."

By the next day even the youngster who was initially shaken thought they were lucky to have had the up-close experience.

"It's one of those once in a lifetime experiences," Halcrow said.