Pod of ‘very playful’ killer whales from NW spotted in Monterey Bay — for the first time ever

A pod of orcas showed up in Monterey Bay on Monday.

That in itself isn’t unusual, but these particular killer whales are from the Pacific Northwest — and have never been seen in California before, according to marine biologist Nancy Black.

“I’ve been studying killer whales here for 32 years, it’s very rare to get new killer whales anymore,” Black, the owner of Monterey Bay Whale Watch, told The Tribune on Wednesday. “It’s very exciting to see them.”

Black and her crew spotted the group of about eight orcas, including a calf, on Monday during a tour and captured video of the marine mammals.

The killer whales were identified with the help of a naturalist in Washington state, Black said. The whales are usually found around the San Juan Islands.

“They see them seasonally in Puget Sound, but they’re not regulars up there, either,” Black said.

Black said it was exciting to see the new visitors.

“They were very playful, active,” Black said. “They were breaching, spy hopping, it’s pretty exciting.”

In general, there have been a lot of orca sightings so far in June, Black said.

“It’s an exceptionally high number for killer whales,” Black said. “We see them more often in April or May, but they’re unpredictable and we could see them any time of year.”

Black said that, since Monday, whale watchers haven’t seen the Pacific Northwest group in Monterey Bay again — but they have spotted multiple groups of killer whales in the area.

“You never know these days what we’re going to find,” Black said. “Killer whales are unpredictable.”

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