Boat tourists and whale enthusiasts got an amazing surprise last weekend when a rare sight popped up -- or breached up! -- out of the water. A pod of pilot whales numbering about 50, including whale moms and calves, graced the waters off Dana Point, in Orange County, Calif.
The pilot whale sighting was a rarity for those particular waters. A fairly common occurrence in the 1980s, it's been 18 years since the last sighting of pilot whales in the area, according to the Orange County Register.
Luckily, the folks from Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari boat tours and sightseeing were in the area and captured these creatures as they made their return to old haunts.
Here a mom and calf give ocean tourists a thrill.
Surfacing ... the blowhole is easily visible.
This view from underwater captures the majesty of mother and child.
Pilot whales eat primarily shrimp, but they'll dine on other kinds of fish, too. They're known to be very social creatures. Male pilot whales can grow up to be 25 feet long and weigh around three tons.
School's in session! Pilot whale calves are born just under 5 feet long and will weigh in the neighborhood of 135 pounds. They get milk from their moms for nearly two years.
The whales did not seem at all skittish about getting close to tour boats.
It's unclear at this time exactly why the pod of pilot whales chose now to return to a place they'd seemingly left behind long ago. And only time will tell if they choose to make the Orange County coast a regular swimming ground again.