• WATCH: Killer whales surround woman, swim with her off coast of New Zealand

    By: Shelby Lin Erdman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    COROMONDEL, New Zealand - Drone video captured an unusual incident off the coast of New Zealand on Monday. 

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    A group of three killer whales seemed to make a lone female swimmer part of their pod, swimming with her in the waters off Coromondel at Hahei Beach, New Zealand’s 1 News reported

    The video shows the orcas playfully splashing alongside the swimmer and almost nipping at her toes.

    Judie Johnson said at first, she was frightened when she saw the whales under her and quickly swam back to shore.

    "I was also thinking they eat seals, and I’m in a black wetsuit," Johnson told 1 News.

    Then she said she decided to return to the water to complete a training swim, and the whales -- an adult, a juvenile and a calf -- returned to swim with her.

    Johnson said her fear quickly disappeared after she gazed into the largest orca’s huge eyes.

    "It was so different to anything that’s happened to me before, and I thought, no, this is a life-changing experience,” Johnson said.

    She told 1 News, "They were as interested and curious about me as I was about them.”

    An orca expert told the news station that killer whales are “just big dolphins with a fancy paint job,” and in fact are the largest members of the dolphin family.

    Killer whales are carnivores and eat sea lions, seals and sometime other whales, but according to National Geographic, they are not known to attack humans, and at least one whale website said there’s never been a report of an orca in the wild eating a human.

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