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Rare sighting: A sperm whale wonderland off the coast of Southern California




A sperm whale's flukes rises above the water off the coast of Orange County on October 6, 2014.
A sperm whale's flukes rises above the water off the coast of Orange County on October 6, 2014.
Lasanthi Benedict

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A lucky few caught the antics of what is thought to be at least fifty sperm whales and their kids socializing off the coast of California on Monday. Experts say they’re unaware that a sighting like this has ever happened in Southern California. Sperm whale behavior stands-out compared to most whales because they can spend a lot of time at the surface of the water, appearing to sleep. This is so they can re-oxygenate their tissues.

But, on Monday, the whales were very active, curling around each other, frequently touching each other, flipping their tails in the air and even making noises. (Typically, they make clicking noises when deep in the ocean, and grow silent before emerging above water.) Captains report that whales were surrounding the boats, staying at the surface for up to 45 minutes. The great mammals appeared curious about the boats by rolling on their sides keeping one eye staring at the crafts.

What caused this party in the water? Where are these warm blooded animals going? How familial are the sperm whales?

Guest:

Alisa Schulman-Janiger, a marine biologist and director of the ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project

Dave Anderson, Owner of Captain Dave’s Whale and Dolphin Watching Safari