Southern California breaking news and trends

PHOTOS: 'Superpod' of 5,000 dolphins and endangered fin whales spotted off Long Beach

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan/KPCC

A megapod of common dolphins swim off the shores of Catalina Island.

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan/KPCC

A fin whale swims off the coast of Los Angeles. These whales can get up to 70-feet long and weigh up to 150,000-lb, making it the second largest animal on earth.

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan/KPCC

The Aquarium of the Pacific, seen behind the boats, is located in Long Beach and keeps careful track of the fin whales that come to visit the nearby waters.

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Birds hang out in the Long Beach Harbor.

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Dan Salas, the CEO of Harbor Breeze Cruises, explains that the fin whales are currently near Los Angeles because of the abundance of krill, small crustaceans.

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan/KPCC

A sea lion raises a flipper off the coast of Los Angeles.

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan/KPCC

A crew member from the The Aquarium of the Pacific gets ready to take off on a Harbor Breeze Cruise for whale watching.

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Over 5,000 dolphins swim off the coast of Los Angeles on January 16th, 2013.

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan

A Marine Biologist shows krill, left, small crustaceans that whales eat with their baleen, right, plates that filter food from the water.

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan/KPCC

A family listens to marine biologists explain the rarity of the fin whales, which are the second largest mammal on the planet.

Fin Whale Watch Long Beach

Mae Ryan/KPCC

The fin whales and dolphins swim near Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles.


A rare "superpod" of dolphins formed this week off the coast of Southern California not far from the shipping lanes — a treacherous aquatic crossroads where ocean life collides with port traffic.

Forming a true animal collective, an estimated 5,000 or more protected sea creatures showed up to protest the deadly "ship strike" zone, or possibly just to feed on the squid invasion.

KPCC spotted the frolicking cetacean convergence around 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday in the waters off Long Beach past Rainbow Harbor.

Pods of Pacific white-sided dolphins were seen consorting with crews of common dolphins to create a widespread, fast-moving circus of jumps, spins, dives, and other acrobatic water feats.

We encountered the dolphin party while out searching for an 80-foot whale (on a 65-foot boat) as part of a Harbor Breeze excursion to learn about the elusive, endangered creatures recently seen in the area.

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SWAT standoff ends in Long Beach, K-9 subdued suspect is arrested

Photo via NBC LA

July 5, 2012: An armed SWAT officer is seen here, stationed outside a Long Beach home.

SWAT standoff ends in Long Beach, K-9 subdued suspect is arrested

A lengthy standoff has ended between Long Beach SWAT team members and an armed man who barricaded himself inside his home in the 6100 block of John Avenue.

The standoff began just before 8 a.m. Thursday morning when the man shot a code enforcement officer in the head. 

Long Beach police spokeswoman Nancy Pratt told KPCC's Rob Strauss that the inspector had gone to the man’s home, along with police officers, to serve an inspection warrant.  

"As they were in front of the house determining their course of action, a shot was fired. As a result, one of the inspectors was struck in the head causing all to take cover," Pratt said.

The injured officer is expected to make a full recovery. 

Pratt says the man continued to fire his gun when additional officers arrived on the scene. Officers evacuated five homes in the neighborhood as they attempted to coax the man out of his house. 

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Long Beach scores largest port security grant, $6.9 million

(FILES) A cargo ship stands on Long Beac

Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

A cargo ship stands on Long Beach harbour, California, in this April 26, 2012, file photo.

The Department of Homeland Security dolled out $97 million in port security grants Monday, with the most money going to Long Beach's Harbor Department ($6.9 million). 

The money will go towards purchasing police boats and updating computer systems. 

Total port security allocations have gone way down over the past few years. 

More on how Homeland Security grants have been spent (and misspent) in California over the years here

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Long Beach man accused of murdering 9-year-old stepdaughter to cover up sex abuse

Photo courtesy KNBC

Xiomara Fernandez

The story of the 9-year-old girl murdered in Long Beach gets even worse, as authorities now say the man in custody killed her to cover up months of sexual abuse.

According to the L.A. Times, police believe 31-year-old Jacinto Zuniga Trujillo, stepfather to Xiomara Fernandez, stabbed her to death last Saturday, April 28, following several months of sexual abuse. The girl’s body was found in the parking lot of Los Altos United Methodist Church, with a message nearby written in blood.

A witness passing by the grisly scene said she also saw a man there near the girl’s body, suffering from what appeared to be self-inflicted stab wounds. The man was arrested and later identified as Trujillo.

Court filings by the District Attorney’s Office could allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Trujillo. District attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said Trujillo is also accused of five counts of sexual assault against the child, according to charges filed Tuesday.

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Hot Wheels: 20 high-end stolen vehicles intercepted by border agents

2010 Ferrari

Ferrari

A Ferrari 458 Italia supercar has an output of 126hp per liter.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recentlyintercepted 20 high-end stolen vehicles in Long Beach that were on their way to Hong Kong and Vietnam, the agency announced.  The high priced hot wheels included Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus and Mercedes brands and are valued at $1.5 million.

One of the dream cars included a 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia "supercar" whose power output of 126 horsepower per liter is the highest of any production Ferrari model in history.  In fact one would expect such a machine to go so fast it could simply hydroplane to Asia.

Instead the vehicles were intended to be shipped the traditional way, by freighter, and even though smugglers used false documents claiming the vehicles were "used fitness equipment", officials weren't fooled.

"CBP officers discovered that smugglers using false identities leased or purchased the brand new vehicles, defrauding several local dealerships, financial and insurance companies," the Dept. of Homeland Security agency said in a statement.

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