Dozens of endangered killer whales were spotted off Monterey Bay on the central California coast last week in the first such sighting since 2011.
While “transient” orcas are normally seen at this time of year in the region, these rare southern resident killer whales of the Pacific Northwest are usually found in Puget Sound in Washington state now. There are only 75 of them left in three pods tracked by researchers: the J, K and L pods.
The group spotted last Sunday was identified as the L pod. There are at least 30 animals in the group, including a three-month-old calf, according to marine biologist Nancy Black, owner of Monterey Bay Whale Watch. The oldest member of the pod, identified as L25, is believed to be in her 90s, The Seattle Times reported.
The whales may have been after chinook, according to the Times.
“They will go where the fish are,” said Ken Balcomb, founding director for the Center for Whale Research, who said it takes the whales about a week to reach California waters from their home territory.