Two of four gray whales from today are seen together in this photograph.

Great whale-spotting conditions

2017 12-27 SB Channel

Captain Eric and his crew found a bright, sunny day with great whale-spotting conditions in the Santa Barbara Channel.  The following species were closely watched:  100 long-beaked common dolphins, 200 short-beaked common dolphins, 1 northern elephant seal and 4 gray whales.

There was a lot of activity around the outer harbor entrance buoy as we departed at 1010 this morning.  Four young sea lions were chasing each other around and leaping out of the water, perhaps spurned onward by the glassy ocean and blue skies.  Later, around 1045 am, a pod of long-beaked common dolphins located the Condor Express and kept us company for about 15 minutes.  Although there were not too many calves, this is sure to be remedied soon by the high number of mating pairs that were seen.  Time will tell.

Eric slowed down in the middle of the Channel and pointed out a very large adult elephant seal on the surface.  The beast was hanging vertically in the water, as they often do, and soon quietly sank beneath the waves and into the depths.  We only see a few of these a year and it’s a real treat when we do.

Our final destination was the Santa Cruz Channel.  This “gap” between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands had a large swell running through from the north, a moderate breeze blowing and some interesting tidal fronts as we enter a “king tide” period this weekend.  Huge numbers of cormorants were flushed from the surface as we passed by, and a large number of smaller flocks of surf scoters were seen here too.  As we neared Carrington Point and passed Beacon Reef, a trio of large gray whales was spotted coming our way from the northwest.  We followed them for nearly an hour and had wonderful looks.

On the way home an additional, single gray whale was located and we were intercepted by a very active pod of short-beaked common dolphins with a lot of high-flyers in the group.

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

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