Sperm Whales Put on Rare Show off California Coast

Largest group of the whales so close to shore in decades.

— -- More than 50 mother and juvenile sperm whales rolled and played with dolphins Monday a few miles off Laguna Beach, California, in what veteran whale watchers said today was the largest group so close to shore in decades.

"I've been counting whales and been on the water for 35 years. We've never had a large group like this ever," said Alisa Schulman-Janiger, director of the ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project.

David Anderson, who operates Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari sightseeing tours, said some of the whales came within inches of boats when they brought their heads out of the water. The group was spread out across up to three square miles, he said.

Sperm whales weigh up to 45 tons and eat about a ton of squid a day. They prefer to hunt in deep waters and can dive to 3,000 feet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.