2016 12-28 SB Channel
Captain Dave and his crew had some fantastic marine mammal sightings in the Santa Barbara Channel today. The counts included 5 different species: 600 long-beaked common dolphins, 5 gray whales, 3 humpback whales, 3 Dall’s porpoise and a mob of at least 300 California sea lions. Seas were calm and skies were clear.
The first pod of 300 or more dolphins found the Condor Express only 4 miles south of Santa Barbara and rode along for quite a while. There were a few small juveniles in group and the whole aggregation was very friendly.
South of The Lanes a quad-pod of gray whales was observed for a while and everyone had great looks. The four whales then divided themselves into two pairs and one went faster than the other on the path to Baja California. Not long after this sighting another single gray whale was watched.
Moving farther south it was not long until taller spouts were located and we found ourselves being scrutinized by 3 friendly humpback whales that made a couple of close approaches to the boat and pose for whelfies. Closer to Santa Cruz Island a very large mob of at least 300 sea lions was located on the surface. This is typically a rare sighting, but over the past few months has become quite common. It is totally NatGeo.
About this time 3 high speed Dall’s porpoise found the boat and rode the bow wave. The trio stayed a minute or two, which is long by Dall’s standards in our neck of the Channel, then sped off. This resulted in 5 different species being watched today.
A final sighting of 300 additional dolphins took place on the way home.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.