Students on a boat trip with the Ocean Institute in Dana Point today had the rare opportunity to see 30 large dolphins known as false killer whales, some approaching for a close-up shot.
"I have been cruising in this area for many years, and I have never seen this species of cetacean off of our coast,” said Sea Explorer captain Mike Bursk. “They prefer deep temperate to tropical waters. We were all very excited about this find."
False killer whales are an endangered species, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. False killer whales look similar to killer whales (or orcas) but do not belong to the same genus.
Females reach lengths of 15 feet while males are almost 20 feet, according to the government. In adulthood, false killer whales can weigh approximately 1,500 pounds. They have a small conical head without a beak.
The Ocean Institute, which offers weekday cruises for school children and weekend cruises for the general public, was taking a group of students from Brywood Elementary School in Irvine.