SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - At first glance they looked a lot like killer whales. But a rare pod of marine creatures spotted off of Pacific Beach over the weekend are actually a type of dolphin.
About 45 minutes into the San Diego Whale Watch tour, eventually nearly 100 false killer whales were sighted breaching, some shooting out the water about three miles off the coast of La Jolla.
"Pure excitement and everyone board was happy. Even the crew was jumping up and down," Jeremy Smith said.
This experience is so rare, naturalist Jeremy Smith with San Diego Whale Watch says this is the first sighting this season. Last year they were seen once, but before that it had been decades. Warmer water could be the attraction.
"Basically because of the phenomenon now being called the 'warm blob,' which similar to an El Niño-type event," Smith said.
Migrating season will usually end in March when the false killer whales swim north. They look like killer whales and are known to be the third largest in the dolphin family.
Word is spreading fast about the rare experience.
"They were telling us about it out there, but we didn't see any," whale watcher Kevin Murphy said.
Still, families say they had plenty to see out on the waters.
"We saw one gray whale and we saw a bunch of dolphins," whale watcher Zayne Masri said.
Even if you're from San Diego and have gone on countless whale watching tours, there's always something spectacular to watch.
"Every day is an adventure and honestly you never know what you are going to see out there," Smith said.
Because of the warmer water temperatures, naturalists are also spotting hammerhead sharks, by-the-wind sailors which are part of the jellyfish family, and mola mola sunfish off our coast.