Four killer whales made quite the local appearance Sunday as Long Beach whale watchers and a research boat spotted the orcas off the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the rain.
Outdoors blogger Pete Thomas reported that the killer whales were spotted attacking and eating a dolphin and young sea lion. But more astonishing was a large 14-year-old male whale's apparent greeting of the researcher in her 19-foot boat, Thomas chronicled. The whale belly-bumped it.
"We were all beside ourselves; the guys on the boat were yelling. We couldn't believe what was happening," Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who is involved in a long-term photo-identification project involving transient killer whales, told Thomas, who also blogs for Yahoo. Schulman-Janiger's been studying these same whales over time. Writes Thomas:
"Passengers aboard the Christopher out of Harbor Breeze Cruises in Long Beach also got extremely up-close looks. (Note: It was raining during the predation events, which did not occur close to either vessel, and there were no quality images available at the time this post was published.)
"Schulman-Janiger ... said the four killer whales, or orcas, are part of the CA51 matriline and included a mother (CA51), her two sons and a female calf nicknamed "Comet." All four killer whales swam to the boat as if curious about its inhabitants.
"The belly-bumper is a 14-year-old male who approached the boat, turned on its side and slid gently into the vessel," Thomas said. He quoted the researcher's Facebook page, where she ebulliently described the whale encounter and had this warning for Southern California coastal mammals:
"Watch out, all you seals, sea lions, and dolphins between Los Angeles and Dana Point!!"
Read Pete Thomas Outdoors' full report here, and see one of the killer whales.