A Canadian Olympic rower got the show of a lifetime when a pod of orcas swam within inches of her Victoria-area waterfront property Saturday.
Silken Laumann and her daughter Kate posted video to Twitter moments after the encounter, showing the transient whales breaching so close to her dock she and her daughter could have touched them.
The three-time Olympic medalist, who was born in Toronto but has lived on Henderson Point in the Saanich Inlet for 10 years, said Sunday she still can’t believe her luck.
“I was in the shower and I was looking out the window when I saw all the whale (watching) boats,” she said. “So I screamed at the top of my lungs: ‘Whales!'”
Laumann and her daughter ran out onto the dock, still in their bathrobes, and followed where the whale watchers were looking until they saw the creatures.
“By the time we got to the dock, they were playing between my neighbour’s dock and another neighbour’s dock. They were right in there,” she said. “And I thought when they leave, they’re going to have to right past my dock, and my daughter started filming.”
The four orcas did just that, popping up one by one as they made their way out into the inlet.
“There was a moment where they came right up to the dock when I was thinking, ‘OK, that’s a little unnerving! That’s really close!'” she said. “I thought they were going to brush themselves against it. It was just wild.”
WATCH: Transient orcas play near Vancouver Island
Laumann said Saturday’s encounter was certainly the closest she’s seen, but far from the first in recent years.
“We’ve noticed this year particularly, the killer whales are coming in frequently,” she said, believing the orcas are likely hunting in the area. “I’ve seen it personally four times this summer, when I’ve usually seen them once or twice a year before.”
This isn’t even the first time this month Laumann has gotten a front-row seat to nature: 10 days ago, she says a seal gave birth right on the dock.
While that sight was more unsettling than the encounter with the orcas (“It looked a bit like a war zone after,” Laumann laughed), the experiences are further reminders for her family of how lucky they are to live on the B.C. coast.
WATCH: Video captures pod of orcas hunting off Bowen Island
“A lot of people live on the west coast, but they don’t go out on the water. And they should, because it’s so special and so amazing.”
The video has been sent to the Vancouver Aquarium for more information.