Bigg’s killer whales, usually seen off British Columbia, were documented off the shores of California in an “exotic” June 5 sighting.
The mammal-eating orca were recorded in a hunting and feeding frenzy and shared online by the California Killer Whale Project. The non-profit was established in 2019 but works with a 66-year database of sighting data and a mandate to continue the long-term study of the ecology, natural history, and conservation of California’s killer whales.
Using photos taken from multiple vessels, CKWP staff identified them as 30-year-old matriarch T065B, son T065B1, 12, four-year-old juvenile T065B2 and calf T065B3 at less than a year.
“We only rarely see killer whales from BC in Monterey Bay! They were feeding on a California sea lion when first seen, and were celebrating with some spyhops – especially the calf T065B3,” CKWP explained in a social media post.
Within a half hour the family killed and feasted on another sea lion in a prolonged attack that included high leaps. A third hunt not long after finished quickly.
“They celebrated again, with some breaches, spyhops, and tail slaps; the calf was especially active.”