2017 12-29 SB Channel
As we waited at the dock for our departure this morning a large osprey was perched on a sailboat mast just behind the Condor Express. I considered this to be a good omen. The Santa Barbara Channel was mill pond glassy smooth most of the day. This included both north and south sides as well as up into the Santa Cruz Channel. As a photographer, there is nothing quite like a mirror surface to enhance an otherwise sunny day. Captain Dave and his crew (with contributions from Suellen and Nico) located the following cetaceans today: 550 long-beaked common dolphins, 5 Dall’s porpoise and 3 gray whales.
Not far outside Santa Barbara Harbor about 20 dolphins found the boat and road alongside. There were a lot of mother dolphins with calves in this pod. About 30 minutes later a small pod of about 5 Dall’s porpoise were observed. Both cetacean sightings were dramatized by the calm ocean surface. Not too long after our porpoise encounter a much larger dolphin pod with many hundred animals crossed our path near the southbound shipping lane.
Our next destination was the world-famous Painted Cave, which was unusually calm inside and allowed Dave to keep the Condor hovering in the first chamber for good Cave viewing.
Yesterday and today were characterized by an abundance of cormorant flocks as well as surf scoter groups. These were found mainly near Santa Cruz Island and down into the Santa Cruz Channel. Both species took off from the ocean surface as the boat approached. Here and there a few rhinoceros auklets were spotted.
We were deep into the Santa Cruz Channel when a single southbound gray whale was spotted. We followed behind it for a few breathing cycles and everyone had great looks. As time was running out, and we were heading home, an additional pair of gray whales was seen moving east along the northern face of Santa Cruz Island.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.