Five gray whales, Rissos dolphins, Dall’s Porpoise and lots more

1-Eschrichtius robustus 2013 12-14 SB Channel - 203

Across to beautiful Santa Cruz Island we went today, and it was clear enough to see all 4 of the Channel Islands. At the mid-Channel point we encountered 5 wonderful little Dall’s Porpoise and circled around with them a few times. This is our first Dall’s sighting of the Winter.

About 3 miles north of the island we ran alongside 4 southbound gray whales. They were “all business” setting a pretty much direct course past the islands and showing a lot of tail flukes. Of course this was spectacular with the gorgeous sunny skies and clear blue water. After a long visit with these initial 4 big whales, we angled south to run along the north face of Santa Cruz, but our route was interrupted by numerous pods of Risso’s dolphins. In fact, we headed for the Painted Cave, then past Frasier Point and out into the Santa Cruz Channel, and had Risso’s in our sights almost all the way. Some of the most interesting Risso’s were found in the Santa Cruz Channel (the channel between Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island). These Risso’s were observed running full throttle to the south, and sending up a huge rooster tail of spray. There was also another gray whale, our 5th of the day, in the SC Channel. It would be hard to estimate the total number of Risso’s dolphins….but it must have been way more than 100 individuals.

Birds seen include at least a dozen fulmars, and a couple of Jaeger’s including one Pomarine seen attacking a California gull. Nick L was out and he’ll post the complete bird story to the SB County bird list.

Gray whale season is in full gear now, and the weather is spectacular. You should make some holiday plans to join us out in paradise.

Happy holidays
Bob Perry
Condor Express

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