Playful Orca whale pops up next to fishermen, ‘splashed the whole side of the boat’

Ryan Lawler(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) -- An incredible video shows a group of fishermen who got an unexpected visit from a playful Orca whale that broke off from the rest of its pod.

Just off the coast of San Diego, California, Nathan Benge told ABC News that he and four others were fishing for Yellowtail when the black and white whale swam by.

"Oh it was incredible. I've never been that close to a creature," Benge said, adding that the whale was "just huge."

The encounter showed the playful killer whale perform a belly roll right beneath the surface of the 21-foot fishing boat.

"I mean I could have reached out and touched it," he said.

Benge said the group first spotted the whale -- and others -- nearly half a mile away.

"Out of nowhere one of them popped up right next to the boat three or four feet away from me," he said. "[It] landed, splashed me and splashed the whole side of the boat. I screamed."

The seemingly social Orca followed the boat closely for nearly 10 minutes before it swam off.

This rare killer whale encounter came just one week after another close call in northern San Diego County.

Captain Ryan Lawler was on his boat off the waters in Oceanside when he spotted two killer whales, according to ABC News Los Angeles station. He was able to snap a selfie with the whales in the background.

James Stewart, a whale expert and boat programs coordinator at The Aquarium of the Pacific, said Orcas are usually friendly toward boaters.

"Killer whales are naturally very curious and very playful animals. Certain pods will often come up to a boat and play with the boat weight, or the bow, [and] ride where they're riding in the front of the boat," he explained.

Despite the oceanic predator's presence, Benge said his group still managed to catch some Yellowtail.

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