SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — When Captain Ryan Sweeney took six customers on a fishing charter off the San Diego coast he never thought he'd end up with a whale of a tale. In fact, he first thought it was dolphins they spotted.
“We saw the dorsal fin that was as tall as I am and [it was] unmistakably a pod of orcas,” said Sweeney who owns and operates BRINK Expeditions.
The unusual sighting took place off the Coronado Islands.
Experts think they were southern orcas, well north of where they usually travel. Pods of orcas though are known to follow food sources to out-of-the-way regions.
“The next thing you know they were swimming under the boat, front and back and all around,” said Sweeney. “It was a pod of about 5 or 6 and went on from there.”
The orcas ranged in age. And one of the bigger whales was seen eating a sea lion carcass, according to Sweeney.
Sweeney estimates they stayed with the vessel for about 90 minutes.
“They were full on playing in our wake 3-5 feet from the deck at some point,” Sweeney said. “The deckhand could have reached out and touched one of them. It was incredible.”
Eventually Sweeney’s group was forced to move on and return to fishing, but their cameras captured more than what their reels ever could.
“It's a pretty rare occasion to see orcas in our waters,” said Sweeney. “Having an orca that close and willing to play and be that playful is something I’ll never forget.”
See the full video courtesy of Sweeney below: