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Paddle Boarder Who Wanted To See Orcas Gets An Up-Close Look

Rich German says he had been dreaming of getting a close look at orcas. That dream came true recently, as a pod of five orcas swam around — and even under — German while he stood on his paddle board off of Laguna Beach, Calif.

The intimate sighting came after years in which German says he has seen graceful sea animals, from dolphins to blue whales.

Far from being "killer whales," as they're sometimes called, the orcas were "friendly and interactive," German says. He posted a video of the encounter online.

"A lot of people have been asking me if I was afraid," he says. "The truth is, I was too excited to be scared. At one point you'll see me drop to my knees — only because I thought that one of the whales was going to knock me off my board."

Indeed, one of the huge animals swam directly at German, drifting down into a dive just beneath his paddle board.

We spotted German's story at member station KPCC's website.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.