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Sci-Tech

Diver has close encounter with killer whales, catches it on film

A spear-fishing diver in New Zealand shares the same space of water with a pod of orcas. Thankfully, he remembered to bring his camera.

A diver in New Zealand got the chance to swim with a pod of orcas. Video screenshot by Danny Gallagher/CNET

Deep-sea diving must be one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have outdoors, but it also seems like a huge hassle.

You have to spend all that time and money to get SCUBA-certified. You have to learn how to deal with emergency situations that could mean the difference between life and death. You have to squeeze into a piece of clothing that's so form fitting it makes Brad Pitt look like he's got a beer gut.

If you want to enjoy the majesty of the ocean without having to dislocate your ribs to fit into a wetsuit, the Internet can take you there -- and you don't even have to put on pants to make the trip. Take, for instance, a video posted this week of a diver in New Zealand who recorded a swimming excursion during which he encountered the majestic sight of a pod of orcas.

Sam Galloway, the University of Auckland student who shot the film, said in the description of his YouTube video that he was on a spear-fishing trip in waters off the coast of Little Barrier Island when he and a friend came across the killer whales.

Some of the younger ones were actually quite friendly.

"The larger ones weren't very interested in us," Galloway wrote, "but the calves came in for a close look."

It turns out that if you're swimming in the ocean and come across a pod of killer whales, the fact that they have "killer" in their name shouldn't necessarily cause you to panic.

In fact, they are relatively harmless when it comes to interactions with humans in the wild. A story that ran in The Guardian in 2010 shortly after a tragic incident at SeaWorld where a captive killer whale drowned one of its trainers says that killer whale attacks on humans are "rare and usually blamed on animals mistaking people for prey." Most of the attacks on humans occurred with captive killer whales, with reports of approximately two dozen incidents since the 1970s.

That doesn't mean you should try to go up to one and stick your head in its mouth. Killer whales are friendly, but even they have their limits.