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Rare Sighting: 4 Killer Whales Spotted Off Chatham

Aug 29, 2016 04:38 AM EDT

In a once in a lifetime event, a group of fishermen aboard the fishing vessel Fish Box was able to witness and record an unexpected encounter with a pod of killer whales about 12 miles east of Chatham.

Four friends who were out for fishing expedition noticed a flock of birds hovering over the ocean surface. Upon closer look, they observed that the birds were above spouts coming out of the water, which they first suspected to be humpback whales. However, the group suddenly realized that spouts belong to killer whales.

"We did not know they were orcas at first, because we only saw the spouts," explained Alex Wyckoff, 17, of Brewster, in a report from Boston Globe. "We have seen white sharks, but since the whales are foreign to these waters for the most part, we were ecstatic."

Wyckoff shared that the killer whales began swimming around their boat as they continued to head north. As the ocean predators chill around the Fish Box, Wyckoff recorded the rare event. He remembered that two of the whales came right alongside their fishing vessel, while one of them even breached about 40-feet from the bow.

The group decided to share their video to the non-profit group Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. Officials from the New England Aquarium confirmed that the sightings are indeed killer whales, all female. They also noted that seeing a pod of killer whales so close to the coast is extremely rare, making Wyckoff and his friends to be very lucky to witness such event.

"There have been less than 1,000 sightings over 250 years. So any sighting is unusual and exciting," explained Philip Hamilton, a whale expert with the New England Aquarium, in a report from CBS Boston. Hamilton claimed that he has only witness about two orcas in his 30 years as a whale researcher at Atlantic Ocean.

Female orcas could grow up to 24-feet and weigh four tons, while male killer whales could reach up to 30-feet in length and weigh eight tons.

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