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Video: Orca pod swims in Bowen Island sailboat race

Click to play video: 'Orca pod attends Bowen Island sailboat race'
Orca pod attends Bowen Island sailboat race
Sailboat racing teams off the coast of Bowen Island were treated to a rare sight on Saturday. Witnesses told Global News seven or eight orcas, including a calf, paid a lengthy visit to the race, playfully swimming beside some of the sailboats.

Sailboat racing teams off the coast of Bowen Island were treated to a rare sight on Saturday.

Witnesses told Global News seven or eight orcas, including a calf, paid a lengthy visit to the race, playfully swimming beside some of the sailboats.

Some of the orcas came within just a few short metres away from racers.

“We weren’t expecting them to come so close and actually hang around the boats for a good part of the race … maybe half the race,” Rafal Izdebski said, who was able to capture the encounter on camera.

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Family of orphaned orca calf spotted off coast of Vancouver Island

The orcas were first seen around the start line around 10 a.m. and ended up following a few sailboats around the south shore of Bowen Island for about eight kilometres over the course of about two hours.

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“Once they reached the cape, where we saw them … they stayed for about another hour,” Diana Izdebki said.

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“The orcas looked like they were playing. It was very cool.”

The racers were part of the annual Martin Marine Round Bowen Race, which typically attracts more than 100 participants.

Funds raised through the race go towards Bowen Island Yacht Club’s learn-2-sail program for new sailors.

If British Columbians do see orcas or other whales, they are encouraged to report the sighting on the whale report app, slow their boats to a near stop and wait for them to pass safely.

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