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Killer Whale sightings provide rare look at elusive apex predators
File Photo
by Indy Staff
Issue 169 - 09/20/2018
Whale watchers and ocean enthusiasts have been getting close up and rare views of a pod of Eastern Tropical Pacific Orcas that have been hunting dolphins and other mammals from Newport Beach, to San Clemente and all the way down to San Diego. The transient pod appeared off the Orange County coast on September 12 and has been intermittently spotted on an ongoing basis.

Orca sightings are normally rare this far north, but Killer Whales can regularly be seen in San Diego during the winter months from about November through January. The sightings have caused increased interest in whale watching tours sailing from local marinas, and operators have been blessed with cooperative Orcas that have been putting on a show for lucky tourists.

Unusually warm Pacific Ocean water temperatures could explain why the Orcas have migrated this far north, this early in the fall. Ocean surface temperatures in Southern California are generally in the high 60's this time of year. At Scripps Pier in San Diego, the ocean surface temperatures have reached as high as 78 degrees. The sea surface temperature anomaly extends to the Killer Whale's normal habitat wandering the waters of the open ocean off Mexico.

According to research scientists at Sea World, the number of Eastern Tropical Pacific Orcas there are around the world is unknown, and researchers have only been able to catalog 195 of them in total. Because of the lack of information on the Eastern Tropical Pacific Orca, researchers weren't originally sure what they ate, but drew the conclusion they preyed on other mammals after observing them hunting dolphins.

To take advantage of the opportunity to encounter extremely rare Eastern Tropical Pacific Orcas, contact Newport Coastal Adventure or Newport Landing Whale Watching for availability.

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