Paddler enjoys orca encounter

Brent Bourgeois has had plenty of encounters with sea creatures but his first paddle since the Rena disaster proved particularly memorable.

Mr Bourgeois took his stand-up paddle board out to Rabbit Island yesterday to see the effects of the oil spill.

He said while there were no visible effects of oil on the island, the family of seals that can usually be seen on the northern point was not there.

Returning to land he noticed a few fins near the island but decided against paddling back towards the island. But as he continued he noticed a pod of orcas about 100m offshore from Tay St and they were heading in his direction.

"The little one, about 3-4m long, saw and me and I saw the black and white shape coming towards me."

Mr Bourgeois admitted to being a little concerned when the baby orca came right under his board but it rolled over then carried on its way.

"It had a look then took off."

He said an encounter with some southern right whales a few years ago was more frightening.

Mr Bourgeois also had an encounter with Moko only days before the dolphin's body was found washed up on Matakana Island.

Of yesterday's experience he said he was "lucky - I was the only person out there".

Tauranga commercial photographer Chris Parker was working on the beach when he spotted Mr Bourgeois and sent us this photo.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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