LAGUNA BEACH, Calif., Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Southern Californian Rich German has filmed a variety of ocean life from the vantage of his paddleboard. He's a prolific YouTube poster, with more than 40 videos of dolphins, whales, rays, seals, seal lions and more.
But until last week, he'd never gotten up close to killer whales -- as he'd always dreamed of doing. That changed last week in Laguna Beach, California, when German found himself surrounded by a pod of five orcas.
German didn't exactly happen upon them. After hearing about a southward-heading pod of orcas being spotted off of Long Beach, German -- armed with his GoPro camera -- paddled out to a group of boats he suspected might have happened upon some interesting marine life. His instincts were correct.
At least two of the tuxedoed killer whales can be seen diving directly underneath German's board.
At one point, you will see me actually drop down to my knees, only because I thought that one of the whales was going to knock me off my board," German says in the video.
He said he was too excited to be scared.
"I hope that sharing this video of them in the their natural habitat will raise awareness and love for these magical beings," German told NBC Los Angeles in an e-mail.
In the video, German recalls the fact that orca populations have declined in recent years. The species remains extremely vulnerable, especially as salmon populations are depleted by overfishing and impeded by dams.
But it's not all bleak for orcas; a pod farther to the north did receive some good news recently. For the first time in two years, the famous J-pod of the Pacific Northwest has a young orca calf among them.