Playful orcas surf, leap behind speeding dive boat

Killer whales are the undisputed masters of the marine universe. They’re powerful and ferocious, but also graceful and, at times, playful. A husband and wife celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary on a dive trip out of La Paz, Mexico, found out how playful the sleek cetaceans can be when about 20 of them began surfing and leaping in the wake of their speeding boat.

Rich and Laura Howard videotaped this rare type of encounter outside of La Paz Bay in the Sea of Cortez. The top video is a CNN report on their unforgettable experience, while the second video is raw footage captured by the Howards.

“It was amazing to see them because they were maybe six or eight inches off the back of the boat,” Rich Howard said. “Every time they’d come up for a breath of air, they would spray you.”

At one point Laura exclaimed, “Jack Hannah, eat your heart out!”

She believes the killer whales, or orcas, were enjoying the encounter as much as she and her husband were.

While that will never be known, and while killer whales rarely surf in the wakes of boats, there have been a handful of these types of encounters in the Sea of Cortez during the past two years–perhaps involving some of the same mammals.

Last June and October, to the north of La Paz off Loreto, boaters aboard the same 70-foot yacht enjoyed similar encounters and captured some extraordinary images.

In those images, as in the Howards’ video footage, the orcas definitely look to be playing and enjoying themselves.