Pacific Gray Whale (from my Condor Express archives)

Two species of whales and a herd of dolphins

2016 12-27 SB Channel

Other than a large period open ocean swell that rolled up on the sea cliffs out on the northern face of Santa Cruz Island, it was a calm and wonderful day for wildlife viewing on the Condor Express. Total mammal sighting for today included two species of whales and about 400 long-beaked common dolphins.  The whales consisted of 1 humpback whale and 8 southbound migrating gray whales.

Captain Dave and his crew located a nice dolphin herd about 4 miles south of Santa Barbara. The small mammals came to the boat and rode all the wake lines:  bow, side and stern.  At one point, unexpectedly as they sometimes do, the dolphins kicked into high speed over drive and the whole herd went into what I call a stampede mode.  After a few minutes they calmed down to a normal pace.

South of The Lanes a small humpback whale was located and it has short down times with good surface periods. It made one very close approach which sent those iPhones clicking.  The area when the humpback was located had unusually blue, clear water which greatly enhanced our ability to see underwater activity.

Along the north face of Santa Cruz Island 2 separate groups of 4 (each) gray whales were encountered along their annual southbound migration route. They were cooperative whales and did a little bit of zig-zagging off their course line and gave multiple angles to the looks we all had.

The world famous Painted Cave had a few sneaker set rollers come through which made the usually tranquil visit a bit more exciting today.

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

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