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A Victoria resident was spending his afternoon relaxing at Clover Point Park on Friday evening when a once-in-a-lifetime encounter happened just a few feet away from him.

Jay Hogya said it was just before 7 p.m. when he watched as two killer whales started swimming right towards him on the shore.

“It was a spectacle. It was awe, it was astounding, it was magical,” said Hogya. “They pulled right up in front and they were so close.”

Everyone fell silent and watched as the two magnificent mammals swam just a few feet from the people and the rocks on the popular Victoria walking trail along Dallas Road.

Many people on Dallas Road Saturday were stunned by the video, wishing they too would get the chance to catch a glimpse of the orcas.

“They’re perfect, they are beautiful, they look like Free Willy,” said one woman.

Mammal researchers said Transient killer whales are thriving off Vancouver Island. There are 350 whales in the transient population, and that number has been growing by an average of 4.1 per cent per year since 2012.

Jared Towers, a researcher at Fisheries and Oceans Canada said these types of encounters will keep happening near Vancouver Island.

“They are certainly becoming more and more habituated to human activities,” said Towers. “They are not afraid of boats. They haven’t been for a long time. And there are more boats on the water and more Biggs killer whales in these urban areas.”

Experts ask people to make sure they are giving the mammals lots of space in their homes, even if they swim right up to us.

“Part of me wanted to tear my clothes off and jump in and go for a swim, but I know these are alpha predators… these things eat mammals,” said Hogya.