A very rare orca pod sighting off the Orange County coast delighted a group of 30 whale watchers Thursday afternoon.
For passengers aboard The Dana Pride, Christmas came early when they were given the amazing gift of seeing killer whales, including some juvenile whales.
About six orcas in all were recorded displaying foraging behavior, according to Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching and expert Alisa Schulman-Janiger.
The killer whales were first spotted offshore at Laguna Beach. At around sunset, they had made their way to Newport Beach.
At first, those aboard the 95-foot Dana Pride thought they were dolphins.
Then they realized what they were seeing.
Retired offshore killer whale expert Graeme Ellis confirmed the last sighting of this particular group of whales was in 2015, Schulman-Janiger said.
The last sighting of any killer whale off the OC coast was in December 2016.
"Offshore killer whale expert Graeme Ellis (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, retired) confirmed the ecotype and IDs: the large male O362, the adult female (open saddle) O104, and two of her offspring (not yet named)," the whale watching company said.