A photographer in San Diego, Calif., searching for blue whales came across a pod of killer whales instead.
On Saturday morning, Domenic Biagini and his friend visiting from Chicago were on Biagini’s boat just off Mission Bay. The two were hoping to spot a blue whale, as blue whale watching season in the state is just starting.
At first, the duo wasn’t having any luck.
“I was starting to get pretty dejected,” Biagini, 26, told Fox News on Tuesday. “[But then], I saw dorsal fins on the horizon.”
As the two got closer, Biagini noticed a pod of six killer whales swimming in the crystal clear water. The pod included five females and a sixth that was too young to tell its gender, he said.
“I was beside myself — I was like a kid on Christmas,” said Biagini, adding that he was in “utter amazement” after spotting the pod.
“It was really a thrill; you don’t see killer whales in Southern California very often,” he said. “If you see them once a year, you’re lucky.”
The 26-year-old works as a drone photographer for a whale watch company roughly 50 miles north of San Diego. The moment was especially remarkable for him because “very rarely do you get an orca to yourself; it’s usually a circus,” he said, referring to other rare times a pod has been spotted off the state’s southern coast.
“I was on my 20-foot boat in the middle of the ocean. I’m never going to forget it,” he added.
This is the second time Biagini has spotted this pod — the first time was in October of last year. The photographer immediately recognized the pod because of its leader, a matriarch known by whale watchers as “Jagged” because of her distinct dorsal fin.
It’s unclear what the pod was doing so far south. Biagini noted that most killer whales in the California region typically stick to areas such as Monterey Bay, which is farther north. After speaking to local marine biologists, however, he believes the pod “may have just been exploring.”
“It was a total thrill,” Biagini added.