Close Encounter With Amorous Killer Whale

A marine biologist says the whale might have been making a pass at the boat. Another sighting involves an entire pod

By Gene Silver and Jonathan Lloyd
|  Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010  |  Updated 10:51 AM PDT
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A killer whale makes a pass at a boat.

A killer whale makes a pass at a boat.

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Killer Whales Accompany Boat Outside Avalon Harbor

The whales were out for a Sunday dive near Avalon Harbor. (Credit: Jeff Woronets and Dan Kruse)
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Fisherman Greg Smith, of  Simi Valley, was on a routine excursion in his boat near Channel Islands National Park on Saturday when he spotted what appeared to be something thrashing about in the water.

He saw a spout and then a whale that was breaching in the water. 

"All of the sudden, I saw this fin and there was no mistaking -- it was a killer whale," Smith said. "It saw us. It kind of, playfully, went upside-down and came right toward us under the boat. We were almost in shock."

As it got closer to the boat, the sea mammal turned upside down.

It was indeed a killer whale. Smith grabbed his camera.

Just to make sure Smith got his shot, the whale made another pass and again went under the boat -- upside-down.

When he arrived back in port at Channel Islands Harbor he inquired why the animal was swimming upside-down. Smith said he was told by a marine biologist that the killer whale had apparently mistaken his boat for another killer whale and was doing what killer whales do when they want to mate.

They're Not Alone: Pod Sighting Outside Avalon Harbor

That sighting comes on the tailfins of another killer whale sighting during the weekend.

Jeff Woronets was part of a group on a boat headed from Hunting Beach to Catalina Sunday. They encountered not one, but an entire pod of killer whales just a few miles outside of Avalon Harbor.

"When we first spotted them, we couldn't believe it," Woronets said in an e-mail. "Other than Sea World, none of us had ever seen these in the wild. At one point, they swam right next to the boat, and we saw up close how big they really are. It was pretty amazing. We couldn't believe our eyes. Probably a once-in-a-lifetime deal."

Woronets said the pod -- about seven whales -- accompanied their boat for about five minutes. He said they were not easy to count because they "would surface and dive, constantly."
 

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