As the southbound parade of gray whales continues off Southern California, killer whales keep stealing the limelight. About 40 "offshore" killer whales were seen Thursday off Orange County and, later in the day, beyond the Long Beach area.
This comes after several sightings earlier this month of a pod of 10 "transient" killer whales. Offshore killer whales, unlike transients, do not prey on sea lions and other marine mammals. They eat sharks and fish.
Offshore killer whales, or orcas, are most commonly seen in the Queen Charlotte Islands area off British Columbia, but they tend to disappear for long periods. They are rarely seen off California, and more rarely spotted off Southern California.
Killer whale researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger recalled sightings of much larger pods of offshore orcas on Feb. 11, 1995, and on Feb. 14, 2005.
There are believed to be between 300-400 offshore killer whales along the West Coast.
The accompanying video, with footage captured Thursday, is courtesy of Capt. Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari. Note the upside-down orca at the beginning of the clip, and amazing underwater footage captured from within a small viewing pod that enables passengers to see how marine mammals act beneath the surface.