Having always wanted to see orcas, Rich German finally got his wish when he saw a pod in person off Laguna Beach. Of course, he didn't miss the opportunity to capture the encounter on video.
As a paddleboarder, German has seen all sorts of marine life. He's seen humpback whales and blue whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals and more but never orca whales, or killer whales as they are more commonly known. That all changed early in January as he caught wind of a pod of killer whales being spotted in Laguna Beach.
Armed with his GoPro, German paddled out into the water, heading for a group of boats on the assumption that they might have spotted what he was looking for. He was right.
He was still a little far off from the boats when he first caught sight of the orca whales circling them. When he got a little closer, the killer whales wasted no time investigating the newcomer, coming up for air in front of him and swimming under his paddleboard.
At some point, German thought one of the orcas would knock him off his paddleboard so he clung on but it simply dove under him and came up on the other side. Still, he was more excited than scared when that happened.
German developed his love for marine life after paddling every day for five years now.
"I was hesitant to share this because some of my whale videos have caused a bit of a stir but this is just too cool not to let people see. I'm sharing this to raise awareness for these incredible, magical creatures," he said in a Facebook post.
As toothed whales, killer whales are considered the largest member of the dolphin family. They are highly social and thrive in groups called pods headed by a female. Large and rounded, they are distinguished by large dorsal fins on their backs, white undersides and white patches near their eyes.
Like dolphins, they rely on echolocation (bouncing off sound on objects to pinpoint their location) to feed, preying on birds, other marine mammals, squid and fish. No official population count has been provided for orca whales but they are estimated to be at no less than 50,000.
The pod of orca whales German chanced upon is known locally as the CA51s. In the last four years, they've been seen off the coast near Los Angeles and Orange County.