By CBSLA Staff

NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) — A whale watching boat made a rare sighting this weekend – more than 40 false killer whales swimming up the coast of Newport Beach.

The pod was spotted swimming just outside the Newport Beach harbor entrance Saturday, according to Jessica Roame, education manager for Newport Landing & Davey’s Locker Whale Watching. Roame says these false killer whales swam just 20 feet from Capt. Lawler’s small inflatable boat.

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(credit: Delaney Trowbridge/Newport Coastal Adventure)

The last time false killer whales were seen in the area was in 2019, when they were spotted on four separate occasions. They are a tropical species, generally about 18 to 20 feet long, jet black in color and weigh in at 3,000 pounds. They are called false killer whales because their skulls are very similar to those of killer whales, even though their outward appearances are very different.

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According to Roame, this species is typically found in warmer waters, and if they do visit Newport Beach, it’s typically during the “spring break” time of the year – they are never spotted this far north in summer, fall or winter. And when they visit Newport Beach, it’s to pursue yellowtail and white sea bass, she said.

“Capt. Lawler reported the whales were vocalizing so loud to one another, that you could hear them from above the water,” Roame said in a statement.

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The chances of encountering a false killer whale from a whale watching trip are so small, it is considered to be a once-in-a-life time, extremely rare sighting, Roame said.