Local Captain Snaps Orca ‘Selfie’

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An eastern tropical pacific orca surfaces during a Newport Coastal Adventure tour.
— Photo by Chelsea Mayer of Newport Coastal Adventure ©

A local boat captain got the “selfie” of a lifetime last week when a killer whale popped its head out during a whale watching tour from a local business.

Ryan Lawler was captaining a Newport Coastal Adventure tour in the afternoon of July 29 when the eastern tropical pacific orcas were spotted.

Aerial footage of the encounter shows two orcas approaching his company’s 20-foot passenger vessel, diving beneath the boat and swimming in lead positions beneath the bow.

Captain Ryan Lawler gets a “selfie” photo with an orca during a Newport Coastal Adventure.
— Photo courtesy Ryan Lawler ©

When the orcas surfaced, Lawler leaned out and snapped a photo with the black and white whale behind him.

Earlier that day, some orcas were spotted in San Diego County, but Newport Coastal Adventure boats from as far north as Newport Beach found a pod that grew to about 10 orcas. The orcas measured 15-20 feet in length.

Orcas are actually the largest member of the dolphin family and, like dolphins, tend to be playful, Head of Marine Education at Newport Landing Whale Watching Jessica Roame explained in an email Friday.

It’s a rare sighting of the eastern tropical pacific orca off the coast of Southern California, she added.

ETP orca sightings are more common off Mexico and Central America, Roame said. They are somewhat famous for surfing wakes created by boats in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

They occasionally venture into Southern California waters – usually to prey on dolphins – and become a major draw for whale-watching companies.

Newport Landing Whale Watching, Davey’s Locker Whale Watching, and Newport Coastal Adventure run trips every day of the week, all year long, with multiple departure times during the day.

 For more information, call Davey’s Locker Whale Watching (949) 673-1435 or visit newportcoastaladventure.com

Captain Ryan Lawler gets a “selfie” with an eastern tropical pacific orca during a Newport Coastal Adventure tour.
— Photo by Chelsea Mayer of Newport Coastal Adventure ©
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