Home Headlines Why are Orcas flocking to the coasts of Southern California?

Why are Orcas flocking to the coasts of Southern California?

by Yucatan Times
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Orcas were spotted in large numbers just a few miles off the Palos Verdes Peninsula, in California, USA.

Highland resident Austin Day was spending the afternoon touring Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific a couple of weeks ago with his girlfriend when they purchased last-minute tickets for a departing whale-watching tour. They were among a party of 30 to 40 people who were hoping to see migrating gray whales.

What they saw was a much rarer occurrence.

A pod of orcas — 10 by Day’s count — encircled a dolphin and thrashed and tossed the beleaguered creature about before killing and feasting on it.

One of the orcas then pulled up beside the stunned whale watchers and sprayed a blood-red mixture of air, mucus, and dolphin bits out of its blowhole.

“It was pretty cool to see,” Day said. “The orcas were hanging out at first, and then a half-mile ahead they hunted one of the slower dolphins and then just ate it. I wasn’t expecting that.”

Day’s experience was one of the first this month in what he called an “unexpected and thrilling” development for whale-watching enthusiasts and tour boat operators, who are witnessing a surge in killer whale activity in the waters off the Southern California coast.

Over the last three weeks, killer whales native to Mexico and Central America have been spotted dozens of times from Long Beach to the Palos Verdes Peninsula to Laguna Beach, according to Tyler Askari, assistant port captain for Long Beach-based Harbor Breeze Yacht Charters and Cruises.

“While orcas are common to California, we just haven’t seen them come to Southern California in a couple of years,” Askari said. “It’s been incredible.”

He and other experts believe the whales are eastern tropical Pacific orcas that frequent the warmer waters south of Los Angeles. Askari said the aquatic mammals are in the area in greater frequency because of an increased abundance of dolphins, a staple of their diet.


TYT Newsroom

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