Orcas hunting in San Francisco Bay identified as pod from Puget Sound 

The pod of orca whales scouring the San Francisco coastal waters for prey has been identified.

The group of roughly 14 whales -- that has been spotted at various times starting last week -- are residents of the Puget Sound off the coast of Seattle, Mary Jane Schramm, spokeswoman with the Gulf of The Farallones Marine Sanctuary, said.

“They’re covering quite a lot of mileage,” Schramm said.

The group has been seen three separate times since Wednesday, according to Schramm. The whales were spotted twice by sight-seeing tours about halfway between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Farallon Island Marine Sanctuary on Wednesday and Saturday.

Another sighting occurred on Friday near Moss Beach when Ken Balcomb, senior scientist at the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, Wash., which monitors the whales in the Puget Sound, found the pod and identified them as “L” pod.

Balcomb previously told the San Francisco Examiner, the whales are in search of Chinook salmon. He said the “L” pod has as many as 41 orcas that travel south for food. There is another smaller pod that is made up of 19 orcas.

The whales reportedly vary in length including adult males up to 30 feet long and at least three young whales that range between 10 and 15 feet long.

Schramm said the whales could continue to be spotted again as they continue to hunt for fish.

“It’s nice they’re showing up, but it’s too bad there’s not enough food for them up north,” Schramm said.

The whales could stick around until April or May, according to some scientists, when grey whale migration begins.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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