2017 08-03 SB Channel
Captain Eric and his renowned crew ran across the Santa Barbara Channel to Santa Cruz Island and had fantastic weather and sea conditions. Subtropical moisture kept the humidity high, but also meant that there was no wind and the sea surface was flat. Sightings for the trip included: 5 humpback whales, 1 Minke whale, 6 Risso’s dolphins, 300 California sea lions and 2,200 long-beaked common dolphins.
The first small group of common dolphins found the Condor Express about 1 mile south of Santa Barbara harbor. Captain Eric remarked that we never went more than a mile today without dolphins finding us and riding our waves. The pod sizes ranged from less than 10 close to the mainland, to several hundred out near the island. The first group also had a visit by a Minke whale.
A small hot spot developed in The Lanes as the boat moved towards the western end of Santa Cruz. Pods of common dolphins were feeding and joined by flocks of predatory sea birds. Risso’s dolphins were also closely watched in this zone. It was great to see all this action take place on a mirror glass surface.
Closer to the world-famous Painted Cave a mob of several hundred feeding California sea lions was watched. The whole group dove together to feed deep below the surface, then rose up to breathe as one giant mass of fur. You gotta love it!
On the way home, again in The Lanes, the humpback whales were found following feeding common dolphins. The whales included a breaching whale, a mother humpback and her calf, and a tail-throwing whale.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.