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Video: The Story Behind the Amazing Surfing Orcas
By Richard Howard, March 27, 2014 @ 04:10 PM (EST)

Editor’s Note: It’s received over three million Youtube views and been featured on CNN, NBC and countless other outlets. Here,  Richard and Laura Howard tell us how they captured this amazing footage of “Surfing Orcas.”

Busy photographing five female sea lions and their boyfriend, our dive master signaled that our dive in La Paz, Mexico was over. We needed to return to the surface. We had only been down 20 minutes and had a ton of air left. Laura and I looked at each other puzzled, but followed the dive masters instructions and surfaced cautiously.

At the surface the conversation went along the lines of “What’s going on? Why did we come up so soon?” Translation: “We paid a lot of money to go diving—why the hell are we on the surface…? Please explain immediately!”

Charuso (dive master): “The captain saw whales in the area. Do you want to go see them?” Translation: “There is something very cool over there! Let’s go see it! We can see sea lions anytime.”

So off we went. And within a minute the screaming began. We saw a black fin slicing through the water. Then we saw another. And then another. And then they began to jump and spin and surf in the wake of our 22-foot dive boat. Was this really happening?

The screaming got louder and louder. But make no mistake this was not a scream of terror but a scream of pure joy and exhilaration. And then the screaming became cheerleading. Naturally it was Laura, screaming at the top of her lungs, “Go Baby Go”, as a pod of 20 killer whales surfed in the wake of our boat. They stayed with us for over an hour riding the pressure wave off the stern of the boat.

They would surf for three or four minutes behind our speeding boat and then the two or three huge whales would peel off and let some of their friends join in. It was like they were lining up for their turn for a ride at Disney. It was the most incredible experience of my dive career and I wasn’t even diving!

surfing orca

To set the record straight, Laura was shooting the video. This was her first time using the camera and to catch this kind of footage is unbelievable. She did an amazing job… and to quote her, “I’m just glad I wasn’t filming my feet the whole time.” I’m glad the lens cap was off. Murphy’s Law is applicable to underwater photography 100% of the time.

Which brings me to what I was doing this whole time. Besides holding Laura, making sure she didn’t fall over board I was shooting my new Nikon D7000. What an awesome camera. Too bad I had my 60mm macro lens on my new camera and all my other lenses were back in the hotel room.  Would anyone like to see the pictures I got of the Orcas blow hole? It’s funny and sad at the same time.  

I did get a few very nice shots of several of the whales. But still photographs do not tell this story, the story of the “surfing killer whales” is much better told by video and the enthusiastic screaming of the novice videographer, Laura Howard.

Enjoy the video that currently has over 3.5 million hits on You Tube and was featured on The Today Show, Daytime, CNN, NBC News, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and other various news outlets.

Please visit us at www.oceansofimages.com or send us a note at info@oceansofimages.com, or better yet buy a mouse pad or a picture for your home or girlfriend… or better yet, your dive buddy.

Special thanks to Costa Baja Resort and Spa in La Paz, Mexico and Fun Baja.



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