Pod of orcas seen headed south

Left: At least once a year, a pod of orcas passes by Sea Lion Caves. Sometimes the convenience of a cave full of one of the orcas’ favorite foods is too much to resist and they eat one of the sea lions. The crew at Sea Lion Caves took this picture of them dining on March 30 of this year. (Photo by Seth Mans/Sea Lion Caves). Right: Occasionally, while pursuing food, orcas will swim past the jetties and head down the Siuslaw River. In this picture from 2018, a pod is seen near the pull off on Rhododendron Drive. (Photo by Amy Wilson)

Killer whales enjoyed a snack at Sea Lion Caves

April 1, 2022 — Staff and visitors at Sea Lion Caves spotted a pod of orcas passing by the west entrance of the caves on the morning of March 30.

“We have orcas, and it looks like they are headed south towards Florence,” said Jim McMillan, Sea Lion Caves general manager. “We see them once a year, on average, but you never know,”

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), “Seeing killer whales off the Oregon coast is a rare treat, but whale watchers can usually count on a pod of orcas patrolling the coast in mid-April — just in time to intercept baby gray whales.”

This pod of orcas may have been in the neighborhood because of the spring gray whale migration, but they found a more convenient lunch on Wednesday.

“They ate one [a sea lion] on the way,” reported Seth Mans, assistant manager at Sea Lion Caves.

McMillan reported the orcas typically just pass by, but occasionally will feed on one of the cave dwellers as they were seen doing on Wednesday.

According to McMillan, when they see orcas heading south, passing their location, their sighting is often followed by sightings of the pod near the entrance of, or even down, the Siuslaw River. Occasionally, orcas have been seen as far upstream as the Siuslaw River Bridge and even Historic Old Town Florence.

Orcas are known for their distinctive black and white markings and can grow to lengths of over 30 feet and weights of over 20 tons.

Sea Lion Caves is always a great spot to spot marine mammals of all types, be it orcas, gray whales or sea lions. For more information go to www.sealioncaves.com/.

For other whale watching destinations on the Oregon Coast, visit stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=things-to-do.whale-watching.