West Coast
Endangered killer whales in Monterey Bay (Huffpost)

Endangered pod of killer whales spotted in Monterey Bay — for the first time in 8 years

Video showing an endangered killer whale pod in Monterey Bay — a place where they haven’t been seen in years — is making waves.

The last time those killer whales were spotted in Monterey Bay was 2011, according to Nancy Black, marine biologist and owner of Monterey Bay Whale Watch. A Facebook post on the organization’s page called it a “very rare sighting!”

The orcas are part of “L pod,” a group of killer whales that typically resides in the Pacific Northwest and feeds in the Puget Sound area near Washington state and Vancouver, Canada. The first time they were spotted in the Monterey Bay area was in 2000, Black said.

Typically, the killer whales that come to Monterey Bay are known as transient killer whales, meaning they feast on marine mammals.

L pod — and two other pods, known as J pod and K pod — make up the Southern Resident killer whales, a group of orcas that eat primarily salmon.

“That was a big alarm,” Black said. “We normally see the transient type of killer whales; they don’t overlap (with Southern Resident orcas), but they’re in the same waters.”

A FIGHT FOR FOOD

Black said the orcas have been having a difficult time finding enough to eat.

“Unfortunately, they’re literally starving to death,” Black said. “A lot of the killer whales are skinny-looking, and several young ones have died.”

L pod coming this far south is “good and bad news,” Black said.

“They’re here, so they have to come so far to find fish, but hopefully, they’re getting some fish to feed on,” Black said. “We have indication that there is salmon around, so they seem to be in the right spot.”

Some more good news: Black and her organization sent photos of the spotting to Ken Balcomb, executive director of the Center for Whale Research, who confirmed from the pictures that a calf born in December was still alive.

“That was big news for everybody,” Black said. “Everybody’s hoping the little ones will make it.”


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