The family groups of orcas videotaped up close around whale-watch boats off the Southern California coast last month was back this weekend. These so-called killer whales, from pods designated as CA51 and CA 140, are usually seen off Monterey a couple of hundred miles up the Pacific shoreline. But the continued presence of the whales has sea observers wondering if something has changed in our little corner of the great blue, as Pete Thomas explores at his website.
"There's no question that sightings are increasing," said Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who runs the California Killer Whale Project and catalogues individual orcas based on distinct markings. "Especially with the 51s. They seem to have become really fond of this area."
There was a recognized local pod of orcas that shifted south into Mexican waters in the 1990s, Thomas says. "The L.A. Pod was the only gang in town," says Schulman-Janiger "If the L.A. Pod shifted to Baja, that could have left niche to be filled."
Photo: Diane Alps via Pete Thomas