I thought I might start up a new series of reports on what’s going on just out to sea a bit from Los Angeles. We’re so lucky to have the great Pacific Ocean so near. I’m planning to report what news I gather from my weekly whale watch docent training classes, which feature reports not only from other whale watchers but also staff from the American Cetacean Society (who conduct the annual Gray Whale census off Pt. Vicente).
Orcas Spotted off Rocky Point – last night eight Orcas (Killer Whales) were spotted feeding off Rocky Point (also visible from Torrance Beach). No identifications were made to determine whether they mark the return of the Los Angeles Pod (see full entry) or if they’re just the transients that sometimes pass by during Gray Whale season. There was at least one large male with them (with a 5-6′ dorsal fin).
Gray Whales Migrating – the official census started on Friday and three Pacific Gray Whales have already been spotted moving south. (And one strange, probably juvenile, going north.)
Blue Whale and Fin Whale Spotting – there are large runs of anchovies which are bringing Blue and Fin whales close to shore where several have been spotted feeding in the Channel.
Common Dolphins & Bottlnose Dolphins Off Santa Monica Pier – there was also an exciting report of a mega-pod of common dolphins feeding right off Santa Monica Pier with Bottlenose dolphins coming close to the pier (within 50 feet). The show went on for hours much to the delight of the pier-goers. No word what they were feeding on, but the anchovies reported above or squid are a good bet.
More about Orcas. There are basically three different types of Orcas:
Resident: feed primarily on fish and live close in shore. These are the whales that are best known in the Puget Sound area. They have cohesive family groups and relationships. The easiest way to tell them apart from the others is their rounded dorsal fin.
Transient: feed almost exclusively on marine mammals (dolphins, Gray Whales, sea lions & seals) and are usually seen in small hunting groups which are not consistent. Dorsal fins are usually more pointed than Residents or Offshore.
Offshore: feed on fish and turtles but are also known for eating sharks (including Great White sharks). Off our shores is a group called the Los Angeles Pod (LAPod). They are not seen often (last confirmed sighting was in ’98 – an El Nino season) and are thought to range from Baja to San Francisco (Farallon Islands) and out beyond the Channel Islands.
Gray Whale migration season is starting as well, and whale watch boats start up the last week of December. I’ll have more on that as the dates get closer.