Orca pod freaks out swimmer

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2012
John Eade
JASON OXENHAM/ Fairfax NZ
'FREAKED': Spear fisherman John Eade has developed a fear of murky water after being circled by a pod of orca whle swimming near Leigh.

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John Eade has never liked murky water and with good reason - you can never tell what's lurking below.

And after recent events Eade will be even keener than ever to stick to crystal clear waters.

The Mt Eden spear fisherman got the shock of his life on November 11 when he came face to face with a small pod of orca whales while making his way back to shore after a swim at Matheson's Bay, near Leigh.

''I'd been in the water for about an hour and I was coming back in, and I had about 40 metres to go,'' Eade said. He soon noticed he wasn't alone.

Swimming on his side with his face out of the water he was suddenly ''freaked'' by the sight of a huge fin emerging from the cloudy depths.

He saw two orcas but bystanders ashore told him there were up to four and estimated the beasts were up to 20m long.

Having witnessed orcas pick the flesh from a stingray and leave its skeleton largely intact he was eager to get out of the water.

He had his work cut out to get to safety.

''Because the water was murky I couldn't see jack except for their fins.

''At first it was just a single fin and I just freaked, it wasn't deep enough I thought for an orca.''

He abandoned his trip to the beach and instead headed for the closer safety of rocks on the edge of the bay.

''I took off over there and then it took about 15 minutes to scamper across the rocks on an incoming tide with two orcas circling.''

He said the whales were only young and he probably wasn't in any real danger - but he wasn't about to linger in the water.

''But I'd rather not have had the experience - what can I say, it was freaky.

''I was definitely in shock, it took me a few hours to get over that. I definitely woke up thinking about them.''

Eade said he will be sticking to clear water from now on.

''The murky waters freak me out. All shark attacks happen in murky water because sharks can't tell the difference between seals and humans.''

Matheson's Bay local Glen Walker said it was not uncommon to see whales in the bay.

''Quite often they come through the gap in the rocks and cruise around,'' he said.

''I've been out in a little tinny and it's quite fascinating because they are so large.''

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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