Newport Coastal Adventure Spots Rare Orca Pod

NEWPORT BEACH — On the afternoon of Dec. 11, Newport Coastal Adventure, a whale-watching company, spotted a rare pod of whales called Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) Killer Whales off the coast of Newport Beach.

Newport Coastal Adventure provided this statement:

“We were tipped off to the Orca sighting yesterday by the Catalina Express out of Long Beach. (Crews) with Newport Coastal Adventure in Orange County decided to take all available boats out, adding on a last-minute trip for the possible ‘chance’ of seeing killer whales, and we rushed to their last-known location, focusing our binoculars [on] the spouts of killer whales. We got extremely lucky and were able to relocate this pod of 10-12 Orcas, two of which were [calves]!

This [species] of killer whales [is] known as Eastern Tropical Pacific Killer Whales (Orcas). These killer whales are very rarely seen here, as they reside in waters off Mexico and Central America. These whales are mammal eaters and can prey on other whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions off our coast. During their encounter, Newport Coastal Adventure boats watched this pod of killer whales prey on at least three different dolphins: one bottlenose and two common dolphins. The boats and their lucky whale-watching passengers watched in awe over the next 2.5 hours as the killer whales traveled up the coastline until sunset. They even made a few close passes under our boat!”

The ETP killer whale population is known for its unique ecological and behavioral characteristics, setting it apart from other killer whale populations. These whales are genetically and behaviorally distinct from other killer whale populations because they represent separate subspecies or ecotypes. Unlike other killer whale populations that are more commonly associated with colder, polar regions, ETP killer whales have specific adaptations for warmer climates. The diet of ETP killer whales differs from that of other killer whale populations. They feed on various prey, including fish, rays and sharks.

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