I knew it was going to be a good day today when Debbie the naturalist pointed out an adult osprey perched right next to the Condor Express on a post at the small boat landing ramp. It posed, looked down, looked up, spread its wings…a very cooperative raptor. This was a special sight to behold.
After clearing the Harbor, Eric the deckhand, with his usual flair for finding whales had us located on three nicely spaced humpback whales about 4 miles off Santa Barbara Point and Hope Ranch. For the most part these three were going their separate ways feeding on anchovies subsurface. One whale headed back towards the beach, two headed southwest and into the nice sunlight that was already breaking through out there. Although these two were separated by a bit of ocean at first, later they joined up and made a nice photographic pair. In the distance, another humpback breached. Nearer the boat, one of the two were were following threw its enormous tail and made huge splashes about 4 times in a row. You could smell the characteristic fragrance of their spout spray all day long as the gentle winds wafted towards the humans and their nostrils.
As we moved along enjoying our humpbacks, there were five or six medium-small ocean sunfish (Mola mola) to be seen in the clear blue water. Captain Dave made sure all 115 passengers on board got great looks at the fish as well as the cetaceans. Speaking of cetaceans, we were passing through herds of common dolphins all day, some large herds, some small. All together we had at least 3,000 of these dolphins and many were with tiny juveniles.
On the way back to Santa Barbara Harbor in the afternoon some guy with a Nikon camera spotted another two whales pretty darned close to shore. Captain Dave had us follow these two around for a while and we got some very nice observations and photographs. The total for the day was now up to 5 adult humpback whales.
Wow! What a wonderful day to be living the life out here on the Channel doing real time biology.
I’ll post my photos tomorrow morning.