Correction: The original version of this story misstated which boat Alisa Schulman-Janiger was on. She was aboard the Okum, not the Christopher. This has been corrected in the story. We regret the error.
A pod of orcas spotted preying on common dolphin and a sea lion off the Palos Verdes Peninsula gave whale-watchers aboard the Okum a surprise Sunday when one of them bumped the boat as people on the Christopher watched.
"The whales appeared to 'greet' us: all of them came over to our boat, and under us," wrote Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who was aboard the Okum at the time, on the American Cetacean Society - Los Angeles Chapter Facebook page. "The large male actually rushed to our boat, suddenly stopped … turned on his side, and lightly contacted the boat—with his (pectoral) fin partly inside the boat!"
- Watch: Orca Bumps Boat on YouTube
Janiger runs the California Killer Whale Project, which catalogs individual orcas based on their distinct markings.
The four orcas were part of the CA51 matriline. The group included a mother (CA51), her two sons and CA51's female calf, nicknamed "Comet," Schulman-Janiger wrote.
"We were all beside ourselves; the guys on the boat were yelling," Schulman-Janiger told Pete Thomas of Pete Thomas Outdoors. "We couldn't believe what was happening."
For those who want to see the orcas, Schulman-Janiger recommended catching a whale-watching boat either Monday or Tuesday for the "best chance to perhaps get a look at these beauties." Though the Redondo Beach-based Voyager does not start its cruises until the end of December, the Christopher out of Long Beach's Harbor Breeze Cruises may be available. People can view the schedule and purchase tickets online.
This is not the first time the CA51 group has visited the South Bay. Though normally found in Monterey, the CA51s were spotted in January and May of this year frolicking off the Peninsula.
Though they're commonly known as killer whales, orcas are actually the largest member of the dolphin family. They can eat about 500 pounds—or 5 percent of their body weight—daily and swim up to 30 miles per hour.