Killer whales were spotted off the coast of Newport Beach on Saturday, the first sighting in Orange County this year.
Captain Tom Southern said he had planned to show his tour group fin whales, only to provide them with an even bigger adventure. After he knew there was a killer whale up ahead, he sped up his catamaran to get a closer look. Six-foot high waves splashed along the sides of the boat.
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“When we finally caught up to it, it turned into one, then it turned into three, then it turned into five and pretty soon we had 15 orca,” Southern said, who works for Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari.
Orca is part of the scientific name for killer whales, orcinus orca. Killer whales can weigh 3 to 11 tons and live 30 to 50 years in the wild, according to the National Parks Conservation Association.
Southern said the whales were a sight to see. He saw a killer whale just a few months old and a male killer whale with a dorsal fin at least six feet high.
"They are very majestic, very smooth and just beautiful to watch cutting through the water," Southern said.
The last time Southern saw a killer whale was February of last year. He’s not exactly sure what brought the group here, but he says he’s seen a lot of sea lions lately, which killer whales like to eat.