2017 12-30 SB Channel
Dolphins, porpoises, the Cave and a whale…all in a day’s work. There were patches of near zero visibility fog with low gray stratus skies. A scant few small “sucker holes” of sun were encountered, but not enough to change the color palate or warm things up. Be that as it may, Captain Dave and the crew of the Condor Express located lots of interesting marine life, including: 150 long-beaked common dolphins, 20 Dall’s porpoises, 50 California sea lions and a single gray whale.
After passing through an area on the mainland shelf that was being dragged by a few bottom trawlers, accompanied by thousands of gulls picking up the by-catch, we encountered a spread-out pod of at least 20 Dall’s porpoise. The overcast skies and super glassy sea surface allowed us to see these marvelous high-speed mammals under the water. When coming up for air they left a characteristic “rooster tail” of spray. Fantastic looks were had by all.
About 45 minutes later our deckhand, Tasha, located a small but very active hot spot with crashing pelicans, more than 100 dolphins, dozens of sea lions, as well as shearwaters, cormorants and gulls. Dave circumnavigated this area so we could see it from all sides as all the aforementioned predators fed on northern anchovies below the surface.
Our next stop was a tour along the northern sea cliffs of beautiful Santa Cruz Island, shrouded in fog, with a nice trip inside the first chamber of the world-famous Painted Cave. Then we continued to the west and eventually turned left and ran into the Santa Cruz Channel in search of migrating southbound gray whales. Once again Tasha came to the rescue and located a single adult whale making its journey. It was a very regular whale to watch, other than to make a few zigs and zags.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.