Killer whales are back: Orca pod CA216 spotted eight miles off Point Dume coast last Sunday

Bigg's killer whales, 3-year-old CA216C1 Frosty with mom CA216, are seen in the Pacific Ocean about 8 miles off Point Dume on Sunday, April 23. Photo by Cris Bough Bibler, on Newport Coastal Adventure.

The pod was first spotted between Dana Point and Laguna Beach in Orange County on April 20; whales hadn’t been seen since 2019

Malibu’s official whale watcher, Alison Mytych, reported that Orca Pod CA216 was officially identified 8 miles off the coast of Point Dume on Sunday, April 23, at 5:30 p.m. The pod of seven orcas is well-known to whale researchers, especially because of “Frosty” — a 3-year old calf with light gray and white coloring (leucitic) instead of the usual black and white. Most orcas with light coloring die shortly after birth, but he has survived.

“They couldn’t be seen from shore due to the marine layer/heavy fog all day,” Mytych wrote. “But there were two separate cow-calf pairs of gray whales that migrated past stealthy and fast while the orcas were near!”

The pod was first spotted between Dana Point and Laguna Beach in Orange County on Thursday, April 20, where the whales hadn’t been seen since 2019. Capt. Tommy White, a ship captain with 45 years experience, was at the helm of the 95-foot Dana Pride whale-watching excursion boat at the time, according to the Orange County Patch. He instantly started calling other boats to help keep track of the the pod.

As the orcas headed north, Newport Adventure boat posted an “Orca alert” with a two-hour notice, according to Mytych, which resulted in 20 people immediately filling three boats and traveling 60 miles to find Frosty off Point Dume. 

Alisa Schulman-Janiger, lead research biologist for the California Killer Whale Project as well as head of the American Cetacean Society’s annual LA gray whale count, was on the boats. 

She posted online that “Photos taken from vessels confirm the pod as the seven members of the Bigg’s CA216 matriline, including 3-year-old pale gray leucistic CA216C1 Frosty. They traveled northwest from San Pedro past Point Dume today! “