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Video shows rare orca sighting off the coast of Massachusetts

Killer whale spotted off Cape Cod
Killer whale spotted off Cape Cod 00:19

CHATHAM - There was a rare killer whale sighting off Cape Cod, Massachusetts on Sunday.

Paul van Steensel, owner of Cape Dreams Building & Design, said he was out fishing for tuna with some of his employees and family when they spotted the orca coming up for air about seven miles off Chatham. 

"It was a great experience for the 7 and 8-year-olds, even though they have no idea how special it was," van Steensel told WBZ-TV.

Chatham orca may be 'Old Thom'

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy said it's "very exciting to see" an orca in Massachusetts waters. And this one appears to be a familiar face.

New England Aquarium scientist Orla O'Brien said the killer whale looks like "Old Thom," a large male orca who is known to swim alone or sometimes with dolphins.

Previous killer whale sightings in Massachusetts

Old Thom is the only killer whale regularly seen in North Atlantic waters, but four were seen swimming together last June about 40 miles south of Nantucket. O'Brien said at the time that it's "always unusual to see killer whales in New England waters."

Orcas are part of the dolphin family and known as "the ocean's top predator," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They eat fish and squid but have been known to hunt great white sharks

CBS News reports that reports of orca encounters with humans have more than tripled in the last few years. Last month, killer whales once again attacked and sunk a sailing yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar. 

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