Southbound gray whales today. (photo from my Condor Express archives)

Mesmerizing Mammal Diversity today

2018 12-22 SB Channel

It was so drop-dead gorgeous in the Channel today that you could see all 5 islands in the Sanctuary. Seas were calm but a very big swell with a long-period rolled from the west…nobody noticed until we did our Island tour.  There was a mesmerizing mammal diversity today:  19 Dall’s porpoise, 2 gray whales, 3 humpback whales, 750 long-beaked common dolphins, 200 California sea lions and 1 big Mola mola (ocean sunfish.

On our side of The Lanes the first of two groups of high-speed Dall’s porpoise took an interest in the boat and spent some time riding our bow, side and stern wake. It is always great to see these little black and white bullets when they show up every winter.

Very close to Santa Cruz Island we intersected paths with 2 southbound migrating gray whales. One was larger than the other and the two averaged about 6 knots as they kept moving without any fooling around.

Eric next did his though-provoking Island tour and ran the sea cliffs from Cueva Valdez to the Cave. Near Cueva a super-mob of at least 200 California sea lions were porpoising, diving and barking for the mammal fans to see. By the way, the backwash of the big rolling swells made a mess of the Cave entrance and we did not get into the shade today. It was like a washing machine in there.  After the Island talk 2 humpback whales approached the boat and gave everyone fantastic looks.

Moving away from the Island and aiming for the coast again, a super pod of 500 or more dolphins came over for a look, and later another 250 were seen further east in the Channel.  A third humpback whale, a small one, came by the Condor Express and rolled over a couple of times.

10 more Dall’s porpoise and a very large Mola mola (ocean sunfish) were encountered on the way home.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Happy Holidays from me and the Crew ! Bob Perry

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