Whale watchers in Southern California were treated to a rare sighting of Eastern Tropical Pacific killer whales.
Dale Frink, a photographer and naturalist who runs a whale-watching cruise, says the five orcas, including a small calf, were seen near Point Vicente on Saturday.
He says the Eastern Tropical Pacific orcas, identified by a darker saddle area behind the dorsal fin, make only rare appearances in Orange County waters. They're more common off San Diego and south to Peru.
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Frink says the boat followed the pod for about a half hour.
"A sighting of these Eastern Tropical Pacific killer whales in Orange County or further north in Los Angeles is extremely rare," California Killer Whale Project researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger told the Orange County Register. "In my 35 years of researching them, this is the very first time I’ve seen them."
Jessica Roame, a marine education specialist at Newport Landing said a "group of whale watchers at Newport Landing was excited to see the pod, especially the calf," reported the OC Register.
"We've had a very exciting month here," Roame told the OC Register. "Since Nov. 30, there have been at least four encounters in Southern California with different Orca pods."