Pectoral fin-slapping humpback whale. (from a previous Condor Express excursion)

Sightings today were phenomenal

2017 07-15 SB Channel

There was a late burn-off for the high stratus layer today, and a moderate breeze kicked up some action out near the islands.  These conditions, in fact, not only did not deter the ability of the Condor Express crew to locate wildlife, but actually enhanced it.  Sightings today were phenomenal and included the following:  6 humpback whales (more in the area), 2 giant blue whales, 1,000 or so long-beaked common dolphins and our special guests, 150 offshore bottlenose dolphins.

The first major wildlife area was on the 50-fathom curve south of Campus Point.  Over the last few days we have located multiple groups of 100 or so common dolphins spread out over a wide swath of ocean.  The seabirds and California sea lions have been actively feeding alongside the dolphins, which I believe makes unique underwater sounds upon which the humpback whales hone-in.  Today Captain Dave and his team found similar conditions.  Alongside many hundreds of common dolphins there were high numbers of humpback whales including Rope and her calf.  Another humpback watched in this area did a quick sideways surface lunge.  It has not been a good week for northern anchovies.

As we moved south to our second major wildlife area, we slowed down to watch a few more humpback whales.  A few miles north of Carrington Point, Santa Rosa Island, and south of The Lanes, two giant blue whales were located and watched closely.  The wind in this part of the Santa Barbara Channel blew the spout spray from the giants far and wide.  It was spectacular.  As we motored around between the blue whales, a few offshore bottlenose dolphins came by.  The few turned into a few more, a lot more, and by the time the spread-out pod had passed the boat, Dave estimated at least 150 were seen.  These large dolphins were extremely acrobatic and active today.  Several of them breached while riding the bow of the Condor, only to land on their backs.  Several others did mid-air flips. Dare I say “Nat Geo?”

On the way home a few more humpbacks were watched including one that was actively slapping its long pectoral flippers.

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

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