Two “Wrong Way Corrigan” Gray Whales and More.

A Risso's Dolphin breached repeatedly today.

A Risso’s Dolphin breached repeatedly today.

Two “Wrong Way Corrigan” Gray Whales and More

You may have heard the story of Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan who, back in the day, was supposed to fly from New York to Long Beach, California. He landed in Ireland claiming heavy clouds and navigational errors. Well today we had two “Wrong Way Corrigan” gray whales.

This is the time of year when our gray whales are heading south. In the Santa Barbara Channel, this means migrating east, and perhaps cutting through to the south in between the islands. So it was a bit unusual today to find not one, but two gray whales heading west ! The first gray whale was in the northbound commercial shipping lanes, about 8 or so miles north of Santa Cruz Island. This whale was swimming east as expected, then turned south, turned north and eventually headed in a westerly direction. We had some very good looks at this whale, but it kept Captain Eric and his crew on their toes manning the binoculars to not let this whale give us the slip. I should also mention that on the way out to this whale we played a while with a small nursery pod of long beaked common dolphins in crystal clear, blue water…perhaps 750 – 1,000 would be seen during the trip today.

After trying to second guess our first “Corriga” whale, we ran for the north face of Santa Cruz Island where many of the migrating whale hug the cliffs and this makes for spectacular views. Before long we were lined up on a second whale, traveling along the cliffs. The sun came over the top of the island and illuminated the spout spray which hung in the air like mist for a long time between blows. You can see this in the photos from today’s adventure. Well, not to be out done, this second whale was also migrating west ! …a second “Wrong Way Whale!” Who knows why this happens. Perhaps they “missed the right turn” into the Santa Cruz Channel between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands. Or, perhaps, as Captain Eric wisely pointed out, to get a direct line to the the lagoons of Mexico the whales would have to run south through the island land mass! Hah!

I forgot to mention that between the first Corrigan and the second, we had a very nice play session with at least 20 Rissos Dolphins, one of which breached repeatedly to the amazement of all. Cameras were clicking madly for sure. Later, after a nice visit to the world famous Painted Cave, we were heading home and ran into a very large herd of tiny, warm blooded bullets known as Dall’s Porpoise. The Dall’s rode the bow of the Condor Express for a long time and all around us they sent up their characteristic rooster tail of spray.

It was a gorgeous mill pond flat glassy day with bright sun. You could see all the way from Boney Ridge in the Santa Monica Mountains to San Miguel Island.

I’ll post up the photos to http://www.CondorExpressPhotos.com sometime this weekend.
There is a trip tomorrow, but not on Sunday, and we are definitely running both Monday and Tuesday.

Hope to see you on board!
Happy Holidays.

Bob Perry
Condor Express

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