The orcas, commonly known as killer whales, were spotted Monday initially off Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes by Gray Whale Census observers; researchers Alisa Schulman-Janiger and Eric Martin "caught up with them off Redondo Beach later," Schulman-Janiger wrote.
The orcas surfed in the boat's wake, spyhopped multiple times, and got up close and personal with the researchers.
"All four whales popped up next to (Martin), one was within three feet of his hand – of his camera in the water," Schulman-Janiger told CBS Los Angeles in an interview Friday. "We were very surprised—he was shocked."
This group of transient killer whales is part of the CA51 matriline, which has visited the South Bay at least five times in the past four weeks. Members include "Comet" and "Bumper," both children of CA51. Schulman-Janiger identified the orcas via their markings.
"Usually sighted in Monterey Bay, (members of the CA51 matriline) were first photographed in the L.A. area (Malibu) in May 2007, the first time they had been spotted south of the Santa Barbara Channel," according to Schulman-Janiger.
Though they're commonly known as killer whales, orcas are the largest species of dolphin. They can eat about 500 pounds—or 5 percent of their body weight—daily and swim up to 30 miles per hour.
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