Marine experts today warned people not to enter the water after two killer whales were spotted 100 yards off the English coast.
The 'enormous super predators' were described as unpredictable and could attack surfers and bathers mistaking them for prey.
A mother and calf were spotted off the coast of Padstow, Cornwall - just 15 miles from the surfing mecca of Newquay - and experts warned the giant whale may inadvertently harm a human or attack while protecting its young.
A mother and calf were spotted off the coast of Padstow in Cornwall and experts warned the giant whale may inadvertently harm a human or attack while protecting its young (library image of an Orca in Scotland)
Peter Richardson, of the Marine Conservation Society, said: 'Obviously we wouldn't recommend getting into the water with a killer whale.
'They are enormous super predators and are therefore unpredictable.
'There is a pod of killer whales in Scotland and they could be travelling around the country.
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'Not a lot is known about the movements of killer whales but the probability is they are here for food.
'There are plenty of seals along the south coast especially around Padstow and Newquay.'
Several people have reportedly seen the whales, a rare sight in the area, over the last ten days.
Ocean scientist Dom Clarke, 25, saw what he believes was a mother and calf near Trevose Head, five miles from Padstow (pictured) while walking along the cliff
Ocean scientist Dom Clarke, 25, saw what he believes was the mother and calf near Trevose Head, five miles from Padstow while walking along the cliff.
He said he saw them heading south towards Newquay.
Mr Clarke told how he came across a man with binoculars who asked him what species of whale he thought they were.
'I thought "wow, that is pretty unusual to see", so I grabbed the binoculars,' he said.
'At the time they were heading south along the coast about 100 metres off the headland. It was pretty special.'
He added that a bird watcher had said he spotted the whales near Trevose the following day.
Fisherman Zyg Gregorek, who has travelled the world hunting fearsome sea predators, said: 'All sea predators present a danger.
ORCA THE KILLER WHALE
Killer whales (Orcinus orca), also known as orcas, can grow up to 32ft in length and weigh up to 9 tonnes.
The distinctive triangular dorsal fin can grow up to 6ft high.
They are mainly found around Iceland, Norway and northern Scotland, but occasionally some are seen as far south as the Atlantic coasts of Spain and Portugal and east into the Mediterranean.
'If a swimmer or a surfer got too close to a killer whale, it only takes one swish of the tail and you've had it.
'A killer whale might be curious around humans and therefore might attack, whether by accident or design. Also, because of over-fishing, their diets have been affected.
'If they are starving, they can be unpredictable and there is a possibility they may go for a human.
Tom Hardy, of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: 'I remember there were reports of a killer whale attacking a basking shark in Cornwall years ago.
'But attacks on humans are extremely rare. You would be very unlucky to get attacked by one.'
According to the SeaWatch Foundation, killer whale sightings are rare in the waters off the coast of South West England, with most sightings between March and September.
The whales were seen just 15 miles from the surfing mecca of Newquay
In September last year, a holidaymaker at the Bedruthan Steps Hotel at Mawgan Porth, around eight miles south of Trevose, spotted a pod of four killer whales while eating breakfast in the cliff-top hotel.
Mr Clarke, who runs a rockpool exploration and education company, Explore the Shore, suggested that the whales could have been feeding locally.
'At the moment there must be a lot of fish inshore. And that day there was also a really huge shoal of porpoises about a kilometre off the headland,' he said.
Angie Gall, marine conservation officer with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said the whales may have merely passed through the area en route to more northerly waters around Scotland.
'There is only evidence of one "kill" made by killer whales in Cornish waters and that was a basking shark," she said.
Basking sharks are known to congregate in huge numbers off the Cornish coast in the summer and are a familiar sight for tourists in the area.
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