Baleen on the Flats
Whoa! Did Captain Dave do it again! We left the harbor and ran southeast towards Platform Hillhouse where we encountered several friendly pods of long beaked common dolphins and their sooty shearwater aerial accompanists. The sky had a thin overcast, and the ocean surface wall mill pond glass. Before long the eagle eyes of Captain Dave had spotted a large Minke whale near the dolphin madness. This turned out to be one of at least 3 Minke whales (I thought there were more in the area, but Dave said the number is 3) and they repeatedly surfaced near the boat and gave everyone on board great looks and smells.
We then headed a bit northeast towards the Carpenteria coast and found larger areas of dolphins and birds feeding on anchovies. This is about where Eric, aka “Captain Cave Man” spotted the first of two humpback whales. The whales were mostly feeding below the surface and then giving us great surface time and wonderful tail flukes. The whales started up with about a mile between them, here on the eastern end of the Ventura Flats, but by the end of the sighting they were in close proximity to each other and the Condor Express.
One of the two repeatedly lobbed its mighty tail on the water. This was a large female humpback whale, as evidenced by the bump on her ventral surface. She was upside down during the tail lobbing. Meanwhile, not to up-staged in this report by yours truly, the other humpback did a little surface feeding, exposing its magnificent baleen, as you can see in the photograph above. This was not big vertical lunge feeding, but rather, some kind of “skimming” or “nibbling” with the lower jaw beneath the surface, mouth open wide, and the baleen visible. When the mouth was full, the whale closed it, and water was ejected. You really had to guess about this being a feeding action, but I noticed that the seabirds were diving behind this whale every time it performed this surface skimming.
At the end of the day we had seen 3 Minke whales, 2 humpback whales and at least 2,000 common dolphins.
I’ll post up the photos sometime tomorrow http://www.CondorExpressPhotos.com
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