Stab Magazine | First Sharks, Now Killer Whales?

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First Sharks, Now Killer Whales?

Southern California, home to the apex predator. 

news // Jun 7, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Typically, South Africans move to Southern California, take up residence in Venice and do their best to infiltrate the community. Today, in Southern California, their sea’s apex predators have followed suit (‘cept they, presumably, didn’t migrate from ZAF).

Last month a five-metre Great White carcass washed up on the beach in Gansbaai, South Africa. Scientists believe it had been attacked by orcas. Apparently, it was missing its liver – a signature of their handiwork. Anyone fancy fava beans and a nice Chianti?

Last week a pod of orcas known as CA-51 were seen in the waters of Orange and L.A. County. They were originally spotted off Palos Verdes by Harbor Breeze Cruises. And, again in San Pedro, Huntington Beach and as far south as Newport Beach. It’s been years since this pod has been in local waters, so their appearance isn’t unprecedented, but it sure is welcome.

Much has been made about Orange County’s shark problem, and while everyone in the new Red Triangle wonders what to do, the question is, like their Zaffa brethren, are they here for the hunt? In 1997 orcas were filmed feasting on a Great White off the Farallon Islands, which is just 32 miles west of Ocean Beach, San Francisco. More recently, this winter video surfaced in Monterey Bay of a pod of grey whales defending a baby humpback whale from a pod of hungry orcas. So, we know the guys in the black and white suits are here in California waters, San Clemente residents wouldn’t mind them bringing their appetite. 

Great White sharks and one of their major food sources, the California Sea Lion, are both protected under the Endangered Species Act, which has caused their numbers to increase over the years. It is also legal to fish for Mako sharks in California, which feed on juvenile Whites. Add the unseasonably warm waters and larger, more tropical fish it has attracted, and it would make sense that the food chain is a bit out of wack.

“It’s kind of a mystery why they’re here, but it’s good to see them again…we could sure use their help,” smirked a career L.A. County Lifeguard.

Whatever ends up happening, the land of Ranger Rovers, suburbs and Disneyland is turning into a Wild Kingdom.


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