A team fishing in a recent tuna and marlin tournament off New Zealand became the talk of the event because of what it hooked but had no chance of landing: a large killer whale.
In an extremely rare occurrence off Gisborne, the killer whale became hooked on a lure being trolled behind the boat.
Angler Charlie Destounis took the rod and fought the cetacean for about 45 minutes before the line broke. The killer whale made repeated runs of about 750 yards and the reel was literally smoking before the end of the struggle.
Robby Lewis, a renowned angler and captain of the boat, told the Waikato Times, "I thought I was hallucinating. I've never heard of it, and I've done a lot of fishing. To see what we saw was unbelievable."
The hookup occurred in an area where tuna were leaping. About five killer whales, or orcas, were apparently feeding in the vicinity.
One of the orcas began to porpoise in the wake of the 24-foot boat, C Crazy 2, and "all of a sudden it dived out of the water and landed on the lure," Lewis said.
The orca nearly spooled the reel on its initial run. The group considered cutting the line long before the battle ended, but didn't want to leave so much line dangling from the mammal.
New Zealand orca expert Ingrid Visser told the Waikito Times that orcas "understand the concept of hooks to some degree" and are rarely snared. She guessed that the orca probably was curious about the lure and accidentally became foul-hooked.
The scientist advises against trolling while in the presence of orcas.
-- Image of hooked orca as it appears in the Waikato Times. No credit provided