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Killer Whales Ring in the New Year

The CA51 family is a group of transient orcas, meaning they eat small mammals like common dolphin and sea lions.

CA51 (left) spyhops with her daughter Comet on a previous visit to the South Bay. Photo copyright Alisa Schulman-Janiger. Used with permission.
CA51 (left) spyhops with her daughter Comet on a previous visit to the South Bay. Photo copyright Alisa Schulman-Janiger. Used with permission.

With a new baby in tow, a familiar pod of orcas visited the South Bay on New Year's Day for the third year in a row, according to the American Cetacean Society Los Angeles Chapter Facebook page.

The eight members of the CA51 family—named after the mother, CA51—paraded by Point Vicente in the early evening, and researchers got the chance to get a closer look. 

"What a wonderful holiday tradition," wrote researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who is also the director of the local Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project. Schulman-Janiger also identifies and catalogs orcas, commonly known as killer whales, by their dorsal fins and markings. "How wonderful to see this family of eight reunited and thriving, introducing their new addition to our waters!"

The baby orca was likely born within the last two weeks, and was first spotted last week off the coast of Santa Barbara.

Orcas are the largest species of dolphin. The CA51 family members are Bigg's orcas, or transient killer whales, meaning they eat sea mammals like sea lions and the occasional common dolphin. 

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