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Onlookers Capture Rare Glimpse of Killer Whales Off Southern California Coast

“We are seeing a calf--very playful even with dolphins..."

Killer whales are considered a rare sight as far south as San Diego, but according to locals it seems their prevalence in the area is on the rise. Several different reports have shown tourists' accounts of recent orca sightings.

The owner of Adventure Rib Rides, Kenny Manzoni, says he thinks a food source is what has brought the whales into the area, NBC San Diego reports:

“We are seeing a calf--very playful even with dolphins which is unique for orcas and of course, the mom is nearby,” said [...] Manzoni.

Killer whales in San Diego’s territory are not something people see every day, said Manzoni. And the reason they’re in local waters is the increase of nutrition.

“There has been an increase in pinnipeds in the area and that’s their favorite food source,” he said.

NBC reported Katie and Jack Montou, a Las Vegas couple, saying the whales swam near the boat they were touring on for 20 to 30 minutes.

"It was amazing," Katie said, according to NBC. "It's different seeing them in the wild."

Watch the report:

Another tourist boat in the area, the Ocean Odyssey, has reported similar encounters. U-T San Diego News reports Judy Lawrence, a volunteer for San Diego Natural History Museum, saying "I never thought I would see an orca without going up to Puget Sound and we all were very excited." See photos taken by Lawrence of the tour here.

NOAA Marine Biologist Jay Barlow said that the ocra sightings were "very unusual" and events that he usually hears of only five to 10 years.

Only a few miles north in La Jolla, tourists exalted at seeing an orca on their trip. Watch the footage posted by CNN and described as "Free Willy" moment:

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