Epic conditions & Epic Gray Whale and Humpback Whale sightings

3 gray whales side by side on a magnificent day in the Santa Barbara Channel

3 gray whales side by side on a magnificent day in the Santa Barbara Channel

 

Epic conditions & Epic sightings

After 17 days of waiting for the Harbor to be re-opened, the Condor Express ran 3 whale watch trips today (9am, 12noon, 3pm) with spectacular conditions.  It was a bright sunny day with temperatures in Santa Barbara in the 80’s.  There was little to no wind and the sea surface was flat.  What a fantastic time of year this is in the Santa Barbara Channel.  There are many many gray whales passing along our coastline on their way north.  In addition, a lot of humpback whales are already here for the Spring anchovy feeding season (did they ever leave?).  These two big species were accompanied all day long by huge herds of long beaked common dolphins.  Here is a brief synopsis:

9am – mirror glass conditions.  We got into a feeding hot spot with a monster northern anchovy bait ball being hit by dolphins and sea lions.  It was amazing.  This was followed by sightings and closely observing 7 gray whales of medium-small stature.  On a few of the many breathing cycles they came up together, side by side…sometimes 3 or 4 stacked together like logs in a lumber yard.  You can see this illustrated in my photograph above.  At least 2000 common dolphins were observed.

12noon – 6 humpback whales in groups of two.  All were heading west at a moderate speed and had nice surface times.  At the end of the trip we were in a mega-pod of common dolphins for at least 40 minutes.  At one  point the all took off together at jet-propelled speeds.  There were at least 1000 animals in this herd.

3pm – Nine whales were watched:  5 gray’s and 4 humpbacks.  It was like a smorgasbord of whales to pick from…along with about 50 or so common dolphins.

I’ll post up the rest of the photos sometime early this week.

You just never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Bob Perry
Condor Express

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