Orca family visits off Palos Verdes

orcas-new-years-thomas.jpgOn Tuesday afternoon, volunteers at the ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center spotted a mother and three orca calves patrolling off the PV peninsula. Marine biologist Eric Martin and his son Cody went out and "enjoyed an amazingly close encounter while aboard their small boat," says outdoors blogger Pete Thomas. They have some underwater video.

This pod of orcas has some local history, Thomas notes:

These are part of a family group photo-cataloged as CA51s. They're known as the "friendly pod" because they often express curiosity toward boaters. (They swam to Martin's boat as he was searching for them.)

Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who runs the California Killer Whale Project, says they seem to regard local waters as a vacation spot of sorts, having been documented between Santa Barbara and Orange County on 24 days since September 2011. Most of the visits have been during the winter holiday season....

Transient killer whales feed predominantly on marine mammals and the CA51s, during their visits, have often been seen preying on sea lions.

Schulman-Janiger said the CA51s last May were involved in the only documented killer whale attack on a gray whale calf off Los Angeles County.

Photo: Cody Martin

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