Part of a large Risso's dolphin pod. (From an earlier Condor Express trip)

Humpback whales, Risso’s dolphins, and common dolphins

2017 07-10 SB Channel

7 humpback whales, 50 Risso’s dolphins and 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins were seen today.  Captain Eric and his crew again worked both the north and south sides of the Santa Barbara Channel with clear, sunny skies and calm seas. It was nice to see Risso’s dolphins again.

The first hot spot was located out near the 50-fathom curve where separate adult and juvenile humpback whales were mingling and chasing sub-surface food with a few hundred common dolphins.  Per usual, the dolphins led the way and the humpbacks used them as “scouts” to locate bait balls which the whales would eventually gobble-down.

On the way south towards the feeding grounds off Chinese Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, many common dolphin groups of 50 or so individuals each located the Condor Express and came to play.  South of The Lanes and north of Chinese a large pod of 50 or so Risso’s dolphins were located by their spouts.  There were several calves mixed in the pod.

Eric took a westerly course and eventually ran to the mouth of the Santa Cruz Channel where 4 additional humpback whales were spotted.  This group included a cow-calf pair plus two other individual adults. At one point the little calf made a close and friendly approach to the boat.  In the distance, a high speed “stampede” of common dolphins took place.

Finally, on the homeward leg of the excursion, several additional pods of common dolphins were watched and 1 additional humpback too.  There were many more spouts in the area; so many whales, so little time.

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

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