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Orcas on the Way?

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Anyone that’s ever chatted with me about whales has probably learned that my all-time favorite animal is the orca a.k.a. killer whale. Out of everything I want to study and be around, orcas are my number one! I’ve recently gotten a report that a pod of orcas are on the way and might be in Long Beach this week!

Each year we see orcas down here a couple of times, usually around winter. Of course every time they were spotted I wasn’t on the boat! I didn’t let that stop me from seeing them though. This last August I made a trip up north to Anacortes, Washington to find them. I was lucky enough to see a transient pod of killer whales…the first sighting of killer whales I’d ever had!

There are three main types of killer whales that we could see here in Southern California. There are resident killer whales which are the salmon eaters, the transient killer whales which are the mammal eaters, and then the offshore killer whales which they presume eat larger fish, although scientists aren’t entirely sure yet. Transients and residents are found up north during a good part of the year. From the report we got earlier this week, it’s a pod of transient killer whales that are on their way down. It would be completely amazing if the whales I saw up there are the same whales that are heading this way and I get to see them again!

Because I take a ton of photos, I would be able to look at the pictures I’d taken from up north and compare them to the whales down here. Killer whales have very specific markings on their back and the shapes of their dorsal fins are unique to each whale. If I see them down here, I’ll compare pictures from here to the pictures from up north and see if they match.

Of course there’s always the possibility that the pod will turn around and head back up north, or in another direction. But because they have been down here before, I’m hoping they’ll come back to the same places we’ve spotted them before. With wildlife there’s never any guarantees, but the chase is half the fun! If you’re interested in joining us in our search, click here!

Orcas on the Way?
One of the males in the pod with his large dorsal fin  | Kera Mathes
Orcas on the Way?
A lot of the killer whales are surfacing to breathe  | Kera Mathes
Orcas on the Way?
The largest male surfaces with a youngster right next to him  | Kera Mathes

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