California sea lion and a humpback whale.

Thousands of dolphins and at least 15 humpbacks

2017 09-30 SB Channel

The central Santa Barbara Channel activity zone got even hotter today.  Sightings included: 15* humpback whales, 2000 long-beaked common dolphins and at least 200 California sea lions.  There was plenty of bright sun all day.  The sea surface was great, and a moderate breeze was felt in the central region.

Captain Dave and his crew reported the presence of hundreds of dolphins all around the Condor Express starting about ½-hour out from Santa Barbara Harbor.  Beyond the 50-fathom line, 7 or 8 miles out, the busy dolphins were joined by at least 20* humpback whales and we closely watched 15 of them. Among the whales there were 2 mothers with their calves.  One of the mother humpbacks was our old pal Rope.  Although busy feeding like the other whales and dolphins, Rope and her calf did spend some time getting friendly with their fans on the boat.  After a few close passes, there was a unique “flanking maneuver.”  Rope swam along the port side of the Condor Express at the same time her calf was swimming up the starboard.  Out of nowhere, the little calf breached a couple of times and, as it was close to the boat at the time, proved to be one of the most dramatic whale encounters of the month.

Another curious thing was reported by Dave.  A very large whale was observed logging on the surface.  Then it woke up and made a slow, friendly pass by the boat.  All the while, a pesky California sea lion was within a foot or two of the whale’s head, turning, twisting and jumping around.  The whale vocalized several times as if to “complain” about being pestered.  (The sea lion got off lucky.  In the past we have seen humpbacks throw their mighty tails at a sea lion that did not keep its distance….ouch!).

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

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