It was a special 8-hour whale watch trip today with the American Cetacean Society, Los Angeles Chapter, on board. After leaving SEA Landing at 810am, we hadn’t even cleared the breakwater when the call went out. Two bottlenose dolphins playing in the surf near the Sandspit,, moving west along the breakwater. After a nice look at these bottlenose, we headed offshore and we had not run more than 5 more minutes and this time it was special. A 6 or 7 foot Mako shark swam alongside the Condor Express so everyone on board could get a good look at it. It was very robust and had a small gash or scar across its head. Wow! It was my first Mako since Grant Graves gave me one for my class to dissect back in 1995.
On our way out to humpback whaleland we passed by no less than 6 ocean sunfish (Mola mola), all pretty good sized ones. We slowed the boat for good looks and it was 2 singles and then a group of 4 together. It was overcast all day, no sun, but still the sunfish made us all feel warm and fuzzy. One of the sunfish was missing about 1/3rd of its caudal fin…perhaps to a sea lion earlier in life.
Several pods of common dolphins were observed on our way out to whaleland, our official dolphin counter, Bernardo, jokingly puts the estimated total dolphins for the day at 3,451…and that’s counting the many little footballs as one each. Soon we entered the land of the humpback whales, and stayed with them as we traveled west towards the western end of Santa Rosa Island starting at the west end of Santa Cruz Island, approximately in the commercial shipping lanes. We closely followed 11 humpbacks, and at least 9 more were seen all around us. Although much of their time was spent feeding below the surface and traveling, we did have the privilege of seeing a couple of vertical surface lunges, some spy-hops, a distant tail throw, and some pretty close kelping.
Rounding out the species list for the trip we also slowed down and watched 30 or more big Risso’s dolphins in two groups, one had about 20 and the other about 10 animals. Several rode the bow a little and swam alongside the Condor Express so everyone had a Kodak moment with them
It was a hugely successful trip and I’ll post up my photos sometime tomorrow afternoon.