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Ultra-rare killer whales spotted for first time in nearly a decade

Ultra Rare Killer Whales Spotted For First Time In Nearly a Decade

A pod of rarely seen false killer whales is making a splash along the coast of Southern California.



Whale watchers off of Orange County's Dana Point got a once in a lifetime sighting of false killer whales this week.



"It's probably been the best three days of our lives here," said Captain Hartman of Dana Wharf. He spotted the the pod of about 40 false killer whales not once, but four times since Wednesday.
"They rubbed themselves up against the boat," said Hartmann.

Experts say this species, which resembles killer whales but is actually quite harmless, is rarely seen off of Southern California's coast, FOX5 reports.

"It's a huge deal because this kind of whale prefers warmer water," said Erin Gless, a naturalist for San Diego Whale Watch.

Gless said the pod was probably following a food source and that brought the pod to the coast.
The last recording sighting of false killer whales off the coast of Southern California was more than a decade ago.

"We had one sighting in 2001 and prior to that the last sighting was in the 70's," said Gless.
On Thursday the pod of whales headed south towards San Diego.

When she heard this, whale enthusiast Sandy Rosenberg immediately booked a tour with San Diego Whale Watch in Mission Bay

"I have never seen a false killer whale and I really want to," said Rosenberg.

Rosenberg said she spotted plenty of whales on her tour, but no false killer whales surfaced.
Captain Hartmann said it is an experience he will always remember, "We're still kind of on a high from it," he said.

Check out the full video of the encounter here:

Join the discussion

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Applez64 March 18 2014 at 1:57 PM

If this is the first sighting in over 10 years, and before that not since the 70's- where were they and why are they here now? Actually, I had now idea there WERE false killer whales.

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leavesbound Applez64 March 18 2014 at 6:32 PM

Its a big ocean. Really, really big. Those are, relatively small creatures. There really are not that many people who go around in boats taking census of cetaceans. So it stands to reason that we simply have not seen them because we have not been thorough in our looking. That is one of the reasons scientists often tag animals so they can track their movements and get an idea of how many there really are. I doubt we will know. There may in fact be millions of these and are simply good at hiding from humans. Given our track record for how we treat whales, I would not blame them.

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angl_2008 March 18 2014 at 1:58 PM

who wrote this article?! and why the heck does it say in the headliner "Ultra-rare killer whales spotted for first time in nearly a decade". These aren't killer whales they are FALSE killer whales. these people need to do better reporting/writing. do some research on the subject your writing about first. poor journalism!!

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tazteq March 18 2014 at 2:51 PM

For all you environmental types who are questioning what is happening to our oceans to cause this sighting, remember that they were sighted in the same area 10 years ago so this is nothing critical. Ocean currents change all the time and thus change where ocean life goes for food. Do not panic, it is NOT something so out of the ordinary that you should panic. False killer whales are no different than normal whales. They are not social with people animals.

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mestranger2all tazteq March 18 2014 at 3:43 PM

Not social with people why then do they chase the boat, rub up against it and seem to play in front of onlookers. The action sure looked social curiosity to me

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leavesbound mestranger2all March 18 2014 at 6:29 PM

Cetaceans are intelligent and naturally curious. They like to play with things that float on the water. They also take advantage of the wake that boats create much like surfers surfing waves. They rub against boats for the same reason cats rub against an object. They are scratching an itch. They are highly social with themselves. They will interact with other species but I am not sure you could call it a social action as much as playful curiosity.

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elrod.porkmore March 18 2014 at 5:23 PM

they cant give their own name? they don't look like a killer whale to me, why not just nasme them false blue whale or false hot air baloon

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buzadams March 18 2014 at 6:57 PM

I wonder if that is what I saw off of Pismo Beach about three days ago. We were walking along the cliffs and thought we saw a few dolphins. Then realized there were close to twenty of them. Seeing both dolphins and whales isn't rare up here, but so many at one time was.

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CORRIE! March 18 2014 at 7:47 PM

wow what a sight, beautiful

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Elena March 18 2014 at 7:49 PM

They are such wonderful and magnificent creatures.

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goldvole Elena March 18 2014 at 10:18 PM

I agree, Elena. Beautiful to see their grace and synchronism. I feel closer to God whenever I encounter such creatures.

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BRUCE March 18 2014 at 7:37 AM

Fantastic video and I'm sure a terrific three days for those that had the experience of the sighting and interaction with them.

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yellab March 18 2014 at 8:21 AM

another example why we must protect our waters

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marilynbibbee yellab March 18 2014 at 10:54 AM

That's not going to happen. The ocean is the next big dumping ground for garbage and pollutents. Cruise Ships and military ships dumb everything into the ocean. I never swim in the ocean anymore even though I'm only 15 minutes away from a beautiful beach. I stick with my swimming pool. It's not worth getting sick.

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almasearch March 18 2014 at 9:14 AM

They look more like Pilot whales to me, or a cross between a Pilot whale and a dolphin (porpoise). Regardless, it's always thrilling to see a pod of whales or dolphins, especially interacting with humans. Must add a whale watching tour to my bucket list!

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