Whale watchers in Southern California were treated to a rare sighting of Eastern Tropical Pacific killer whales.
Dale Frink, a photographer and naturalist who runs a whale-watching cruise, says the five orcas, including a small calf, were seen near Point Vicente on Saturday.
He says the Eastern Tropical Pacific orcas, identified by a darker saddle area behind the dorsal fin, make only rare appearances in Orange County waters. They're more common off San Diego and south to Peru.
Frink says the boat followed the pod for about a half hour.
"A sighting of these Eastern Tropical Pacific killer whales in Orange County or further north in Los Angeles is extremely rare," California Killer Whale Project researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger told the Orange County Register. "In my 35 years of researching them, this is the very first time I’ve seen them."
Jessica Roame, a marine education specialist at Newport Landing said a "group of whale watchers at Newport Landing was excited to see the pod, especially the calf," reported the OC Register.
"We've had a very exciting month here," Roame told the OC Register. "Since Nov. 30, there have been at least four encounters in Southern California with different Orca pods."