"The young orca belongs to the family pod called the I15's, the orca that was entangled is I103 its mother, two siblings and her aunt and two cousins were looking distressed waiting for the young orca to be released," wrote Mackay.
"I 103 then began to sink to the bottom of the net under water and as it sank the family took a deep dive where they were under for approximately 12 minutes. We were all very stressed during this time as orcas typically hold their breath for up to 5 minutes only. We weren't sure at this point whether I103 was alive or not and were fearing the worst."
Eventually, to the relief of the whale watching crew, the fisherman was able to draw the net up close enough to cut the animal free, ending his harrowing ordeal. Researchers arrived shortly after to monitor the freed calf and pod as they continued up the coast.
Mackay says that she's never witnessed such a scene before, adding that it speaks volumes to the incredible loyalty the animals have to one another.
"That family bond that those orcas have is so strong that they would not leave that whale. When it went down, they went down with it," she said. "It was really quite moving and terrifying at the same time."