Gray whales mating

A surface lunge feeding humpback whale and more !

2017 03-20 SB Coast

Once again the wildlife conditions in the Santa Barbara Channel were superb.  Captain Eric took command of two excursions, one left at 9am and the second departed at noon.  The totals for both trips included: 11 gray whales, 1,500 long-beaked common dolphins and 2 humpback whales (one was a surface lunge feeding humpback).

9 am
Just one mile south of the entrance to Santa Barbara harbor, several hundred dolphins located the Condor Express as they were engaged in active feeding.  The water was fairly clear and revealed numerous anchovy schools that were attacked by the dolphins, several of which were seen feeding upside down at high speeds.  Nearby 2 friendly gray whales were pushing northbound.  They came close to the boat, rolling around and actually swam under the bow for some amazing views.  More dolphins were encountered, then, an additional 3 gray whales entered the scene.  This trio was socializing (possibly mating) and was seen upside down, rolling, pectoral fins elevated and showing a few spy-hops.  One whale stayed upside down for at least 10 minutes.  More dolphins were feeding all around and soon a surface lunge feeding humpback whale joined the attack on the anchovy schools. This humpback had a pure white tail. Sea birds were there too, by the hundreds.

12 noon
A many-hundred strong dolphin pod was actively feeding in the boat anchorage east of Stern’s Wharf.  As we turned away and started our slow trek to the west (for northbound whales) 3 gray whales were found and watched closely.  A fourth small and very shy gray whale appeared off Hope Ranch.  Offshore just a bit a different humpback whale was watched.  This one had a black tail.  It showed its flukes on every dive and also let out a few trumpet vocalizations.  Near Goleta Pier, a pair of gray whales was found swimming fast and rolling around at the same time.  Moving out to the 50 fm line, a larger pod with around 700 or so dolphins kept the boat company.

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

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