The Orca (Killer Whale) pod known as K-Pod is heading south. They were spotted off of San Francisco both near the Farallon Islands and off Half Moon Bay.
K-Pod is a resident Orca group up in Washington’s Puget Sound and though Orcas are not that uncommon in California waters, the resident groups (K-Pod, J-Pod, L-Pod, et al) are known as tight-knit groups that pretty much stick to their territories in the Puget Sound waters. They eat fish, unlike the transient variety of Orcas that eat other marine mammals.
Scientists believe the whales have moved south due to the collapse of the salmon populations in the area and they are in search of food. It’s not known if they’ll stay in the San Francisco area or keep moving south. The furthest south any of the resident populations have been reliably sighted is Monterey.
It’s extremely unlikely that the resident whales would travel as far south as Santa Monica Bay (and maybe we wouldn’t want them eating our DDT infused fish). But it makes me pretty eager to get on a boat this weekend just in case. More reading here, here and here.
Photo above via Flickr by orcagirl who has some other phenomenal shots as her name would promise.