Whale watchers had a breathtaking encounter on March 19, 2016 off the coast of Dana Point, California, when they witnessed a rarely seen False Killer Whale giving birth.
Passengers aboard Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari’s catamaran watched in awe as members of a pod containing around 40 false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens),came up to port side of the boat and pushed against it. There was a sudden burst of blood and the newborn calf popped out! The unexpected birth occurred in about 80 feet water.
Captain Tom Southern, who witnessed the remarkable event, said “the whole group huddled around the calf, and they spent the next 10 to 12 minutes taking turns pushing the calf to the surface while the newborn learned how to swim”.
False Killer Whales are rarely seen off of Southern California. They are normally found in warmer waters. Captain Dave’s most recent encounter occurred in March 2014. Prior to then, the whales had not been seen in almost ten years.
Capt. Dave describes his encounter with the whales just before one of them gave birth:
“I had just handed off the false killers to Tom and then returned to the dock with my passengers. We’d had a great trip. We saw one thousand dolphins and two gray whales and these False Killer Whales that had bow rode on the front of our boat, so I was feeling very good,” explained Capt. Dave, “When Tom called and told me the news. Dang, I thought! If only we could have stayed out longer! But one of my passengers needed to get back. What a once in a lifetime thing to see! In over twenty years on the water I have never seen anything like that. And I know of no one who has ever seen a wild Pseudorca birth! I am so happy for our passengers and crew that got to see this. Mark Tyson, one of our seasoned crew, told me it was his most emotional moment on the ocean ever. Wow, what a blessing from God this was. What a miracle.”
False killer whales are members of the dolphin family, just like killer whales (orcas). Newborns are less than five feet in length, and when fully grown, the calf will be about 15 to 20 feet long and weigh about 1,500 pounds. The new calf will nurse for around one and a half to two years.
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