Frisky humpback whales and a blue whale, etc etc

Two humpback whales on a glassy surface.  One has its long pectoral flipper  high in the air.

Two humpback whales on a glassy surface. One has its long pectoral flipper high in the air.

The sky was overcast, thin in a few spots, thick in others. But there was zero wind, glassy seas and no swells. Calm sea conditions prevailed in the Channel and made watching for animal life spectacular. About a mile outside Santa Barbara Harbor, Captain Mat stopped the Condor Express and right in the middle of a small pod of common dolphins we watched 4 humpback whales. The water was exceptionally clear this close to shore and looking straight down on the common dolphins was fantastic. After a sufficient amount of time for maximum enjoyment of these humpbacks and dolphins, we headed west.

Our westerly route was set by Captain Mat after a conversation with one of the big, heavy hitting oil platform supply ships that had reported whales to the far northwest end of the Channel. However we did slow down for a big Mola mola (ocean sunfish) that came alongside the boat. Soon thereafter we saw another Mola, this time it was a behemoth and it was so close you could look directly into its highly moveable eyeballs. This puppy dog weighed at least 600 pounds.

Our target was “the big three” oil platforms up west of Gaviota and in deep water (1200 feet+). Past Platform Hondo, and en route to Platforms Harvest and Heritage, we had our first sighting of a giant blue whale in two weeks. We stayed with this monster for about four or five breathing cycles and then got back on our westerly course.

The hot tip to go west was not false. Before long we had another four humpback whales (two pairs….all adults). These whales were tagging along behind a nice sized herd of common dolphins (we saw 1500 or so all totaled today), and seabird activity was abundant. After quite a long period of following these whales, that followed the dolphins…all fairly routine, one of the humpbacks began slapping its long white pectoral flipper repeatedly. It was creating quite a ruckus, even though it was side by side with its docile partner that did not appear to care at all about these antics.

Don’t take your eyes off the pect-slapping humpback too long because BAM! This same whale took off and breached about 8 times. Two of the other whales surfaced right alongside the Condor Express a few times as well. We definitely hit the jackpot, experiencing quite a few of the wild and frisky behaviors that humpback legends are made of.

I’ll post up my photographs sometime tomorrow.
http://www.CondorExpressPhotos.com

best regards
Bob Perry
Condor Express

PS there was also a brief look at a somewhat small and shy blue shark.

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