2017 07-12 SB Channel
Five different species of cetaceans were watched today, including: 50 offshore bottlenose dolphins, 1 blue whale, 6 humpback whales, 1 Minke whale, and 600 long-beaked common dolphins. A light stratus layer persisted for most of the day and allowed some warm but filtered light through to the deck. Consequently, with no wind, the sea surface was glassy.
On the way across the Santa Barbara Channel, the Condor Express had about 100 common dolphins locate the boat and took up positions on waves all around. A single humpback whale was also closely watched at this location which was about 4 miles southwest of Santa Barbara Harbor. Another humpback breached at least ½ mile in the distance and not everyone was able to see it in time. A nice Minke whale was also watched just south of the single humpback, and from here we rant to the west end of Santa Cruz Island for a visit to the world-famous Painted Cave.
Continuing on a southerly heading Captain Dave and his crew went through several more common dolphin groups of around 100 individuals each, then located a giant blue whale north of The Lanes and about even with the mouth of the Santa Cruz Channel. It was a large individual…as the name “giant” implied. While enjoying the blue whale, a very active nursery pod of 50 or more offshore bottlenose dolphins came by the Condor. Dave reports that every adult had a calf, and there was a lot of activity, as there usually is with offshore bottlenose.
We had a special event take place on the way home, in the midst of searching and watching another large group of humpback whales including a nice breaching whale. Researchers from Cascadia Research Collective have been placing suction cup tags on blue whales for the past couple of weeks. These tags are designed to come off, float up to the surface and emit a special VHF radio signal so it (and all its data) can be retrieved. Our friend, John from Cascadia, loaned us a tracking device to use when we were within range of a floating and transmitting tag. Today we intercepted a signal and called John over to pick up his tag. It was fun to be part of such important science while enjoying a day with five different species of cetaceans.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.