Frequent sightings of Eastern Tropical Pacific orcas have been reported by whale watchers near Dana Point.

Boats from Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari spotted a pod of three to nine ETP orcas on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Captain Dave Anderson said their boat, Manute’a, was the first to see the orcas that day.

“So we posted it on Instagram,” Anderson said. “Then we had a lot of people wanting to go, and our boats were getting full.”

Anderson was not scheduled to work on Tuesday, but he was needed after someone requested a private charter to see the pod of killer whales.

“When we got there, they had just fed on a dolphin,” he said.

Anderson said Dana Point has the greatest density of dolphins and regularly sees pods of 2,000.

“We’ve seen them [ETP orcas] numerous times now, and they’ve been known to kill dolphins in this area,” he said.

Anderson said they first saw orcas on Dec. 17 and had repeated sightings since then. The creatures have been spotted at Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Diego and the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

ETP orcas are usually found near Mexico and Central America and have made previous appearances at Dana Point, but Anderson said he has never seen them this often before. According to published reports, this is the first time they have been seen off the Orange County coast since 2019.

“Whale watching keeps getting better and better in this area,” he said. “It’s very exciting to do whale watching here; a lot of people don’t realize that.”

According to an email from Donna Kalez of Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching, passengers on Dana Wharf Whale Watching’s Lot’ A Fun sighted orcas on Thursday, Jan. 4.

Kalez said they found the pod of killer whales over 10 miles southwest of Dana Point Harbor and watched them slowly travel south.

The private charter followed the pod until sunset.

“After dark, we saw a little bioluminescence on our return and had a coastal bottlenose dolphin escort us into the Dana Point Harbor,” she said.