A close encounter with orcas

A Shetland-based engineer had a very close encounter with a pod of killer whales off Levenwick at the weekend.

Euan Crawford had already seen the orcas while out in a sailing boat with his family, but, he said, “we came back in with the kids and were sitting having our lunch and I realised the whales were still floating around in the bay.

“I thought, ‘I’m probably not going to get many opportunities like this again’, so I thought I’d go out in the kayak and get a wee bit of video footage of them.”

Euan managed to get out among the whales, who seemed entirely unconcerned with his presence. “They were kind of floating past me” he said, “between the rocks and where I was in the kayak, just doing their own thing. I probably spent about 10 minutes with them.

“I reckon some of them were probably swimming under the boat, checking me out, but when they were actually breaching, coming out of the water, [they were] probably within 30 foot of the boat.”

Despite being so close to such powerful animals, Euan said he was not scared at all. “We’re not seen as food for them” he said. “There’s been no recorded instances of orcas attacking humans in the wild.

“I was excited, and the heart was racing, but I was not thinking I was putting myself in any danger, otherwise I wouldn’t have been out there. I don’t have a suicide wish.”

It is always advised that people should not try to approach cetaceans in boats, and to always keep a safe distance. Euan said he understood this: “I feel that if I’m upsetting them, they could be off in a flick of your fingers.  And I also want to keep a healthy distance because I don’t want to upset them.

“It’s always at the back of your mind that they are wild animals and you’ve got to respect that they’re doing their thing and you’re definitely in their environment.”

Euan Crawford with one of the Orcas. Photo by Tommy Bain.



Add Your Comment
  • Robin Barclay

    • July 31st, 2013 12:43

    Well – there’s always going to be a first time when an orca decides to see what humans taste like – and I guess humans are particularly available in canoes, and they weigh a lot less than most seals!

  • Guy Waites

    • September 5th, 2016 12:26

    Ever the adventurer Euan… Never lose it!


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