‘Rarely sighted’ orcas spotted chasing sea lions off California coast

Whale watchers spot “incredible” white killer whales

Whale watchers overwhelmed to see familiar white killer whales


Orcas that are “rarely seen” were caught on camera hunting sea lions off the coast of California this week, Monterey Bay Whale Watch said Wednesday.

The “absolutely amazing day of whale watching” included seeing eight killer whales chase several sea lions on Tuesday, the whale watcher said in a Facebook post. The California Killer Whale Project, which tags and identifies killer whales in the area, identified some of the whales and identified them as individual whales that don’t appear often. One of the whales was a calf traveling with its mother, Monterey Bay Whale Watch said.

We had another absolutely amazing day whale watching yesterday, 12/12/23! We found 8 killer whales yesterday hunting…

Posted by Monterey Bay Whale Watch on Wednesday 13 December 2023

The group said they saw the whales leap out of the water, break the surface and slap their tails as they chased the sea lions before traveling “very fast to the northwest.”

ONE video, Monterey Bay Whale Watch said was taken by a drone showing killer whales hunting the sea lion. The video may be disturbing, the whale watcher said, but shows “a very important part of nature and the ecosystem.” It is also rare to document such events, the whale watcher said.

In addition to orcas and sea lions, the whale watcher also recorded sightings of 50 Risso’s dolphins, a type of bottlenose dolphin common along the California coast. Killer whales hunt these dolphins, but the whale watcher did not say they had been predated by killer whales seen Tuesday.

Nancy Black, the owner of Monterey Bay Whale Watch, director of the California Killer Whale Project and a marine biologist, previously told CBS Sacramento that killer whales seen in California are more commonly found in the deep ocean gorge below Monterey Bay. Because the canyon is close to the beach, it is possible to see orcas from shore in some cases, Black said at the time.

Monterey Bay is about 75 miles south of San Francisco.

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