Orca spotted off Chatham

CHATHAM, Mass. — An incredibly rare sight was spotted 11 miles east of Chatham Monday morning.

Captain Bruce Peters of Capeshores Charters has been running his charter operation out of Cape Cod since 1996 and has never seen a killer whale before - until Monday.

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At 8:45 a.m., he came across an orca while taking customers out on a tuna fishing charter.

Peters said the only killer whale he's ever seen was when he was fishing on the west coast.

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Killer whales are pretty rare of the western side of the Atlantic.

"The sightings are so infrequent in the northwest Atlantic, it's hard to get a good population count," said Philip Hamilton, a right whale researcher at the New England Aquarium.

There have been fewer than 100 individuals whales photographed in the northwest Atlantic. When they looked at the photos Peters captured, they recognized it as "Old Thom", a killer whale that has been spotted before.

Killer whales tend to be spotted off Labrador and Newfoundland in the northeast.