Endangered southern resident orcas seen swimming off California coast
A Vancouver Island whale researcher is ecstatic after finding endangered southern resident killer whales all the way down in southern California's Monterey Bay.
Josh McInnes was taking part in a killer whale research survey in the bay when he spotted orcas he was intimately familiar with from back home in Canada
"I was thinking those were transients until I saw a saddle patch of one of the members, and then I thought 'Wow!" she said from onboard a research vessel. "I was blown away that L-pod was this far south and I’ve actually seen them."
The research team was watching how transients feed upon the calves of grey whales. McInnes said he was stunned to see whales normally seen in the waters off of Vancouver Island and Washington State that far south.
"For them coming off the coast like that really is a sign of some things that are changing. Our ecosystem is constantly changing, the salmon is changing, the chinook is endangered and to see them this far south is phenomenal," he said.
Of particular importance to McInnes was seeing the calf L-124 frolicking in the waters. The calf is the newest member of L-pod and is the offspring of L-77, and a rare survivor of a baby boom of young whales which unfortunately died long after their births.
"It kept up with the entire L-pod and did not show any signs of fatigue or any sort of malnourishment, there was no peanut head that is present sometimes on killer whales. It was a bouncy little calf that was definately having a good time in the Monterey Bay," McInnes said.
McInnes says he is down in California until April 20 doing his research.
He says he is not sure how long the L-pod will remain down there but encourages whale enthusiasts to keep an eye out for their return to the waters off of Vancouver Island.