No, that’s not a still from the so-bad-it’s-now-a-cult-classic 1977 film “Orca.” Yes, the picture is real, and yes, it shows some dude hooked up to a killer whale. But you can be forgiven for doubting its veracity, because even the guys on the boat thought they were hallucinating.
From this story in the Waikato (NZ) Times:
Fisherman Rob Page had never seen anything like it – an adult killer whale was “smoking” line off the reel so fast and for so long it was nearly too hot to touch. Mr Page, of Forest Lake, Hamilton, was on board the 8-metre C Crazy 2 on Saturday with three others trawling lures during a tuna and marlin fishing tournament off Gisborne._
_About 65 kilometres offshore they hit a boil-up, with tuna torpedoing into the air among the sea birds. Mr Page spotted whale spouts nearby, which turned out to be a pod of up to five orca. “We just cruised past and carried on following the birds,” he said. We had a couple of inquisitive ones [orca] start being nosy – one in particular started following us.”
Skipper Robbie Lewis said the orca “porpoised” in their wake and “all of a sudden it dived out of the water and landed on the lure”. Line peeled off the spool. “I’d had a couple of energy drinks by that time and I thought I was hallucinating,” he said. “I wasn’t hallucinating. I’ve never heard of it, and I’ve done a lot of fishing. To see what we saw was unbelievable.” First-time big game fisherman Charlie Dostounis grabbed the rod and harness. Mr Page said when the orca realised it was hooked, it nearly spooled the reel by swimming 800 metres down. They considered cutting the line but they didn’t want to leave hundreds of metres of heavy nylon dragging from the hook. After playing the estimated five tonne animal for 45 minutes, the line broke and only short piece of trace and lure were lost.
How would you react to a killer whale grabbing your bait? Feel free to take this rare opportunity to make the obligatory “Free Willy” references…