We had a blast with humpback whales and dolphins today

The elusive minke whale. Two were seen today in the Channel.

The elusive minke whale. Two were seen today in the Channel.

Sunny. Clear skies. Very light winds. Smooth sea surface. All the oceanographic parameters were perfect today as Captain Mat took the Condor Express out of Santa Barbara Harbor and headed south to the spots we left the humpback whales yesterday. Again the abundance and diversity of marine mammals was spectacular. Here are the approximate totals for today:
2 Minke whales
14 Humpback whales
12 Risso’s dolphins (see notes below)
2,500+ Common dolphins
100 California sea lions

Our first observations of common dolphin masses with sea birds diving and making a fuss was just north of the shipping lanes. As we saw previously this week, the dolphin-bird assemblage seems to attract the humpback whales. Frequently the whales lag behind the dolphin herd by a quarter mile or so, but when the smaller cetaceans stop charging ahead, the big boys rapidly catch up and join the feast. Northern anchovy schools are still to be found all around the Channel and are the primary focus for all the hungry predators. Several of these oceanic hot spots were observed as we slowly worked our way across the shipping lanes and onward to the northwestern face of Santa Cruz Island. We did not locate that large herd of Risso’s dolphins that were around the area yesterday, but instead we came up on about 12 Risso’s and they were mostly mother and calf pairs. Some of the calves were very small and very young. It was a very special sighting and something I’ve never seen before in my decades of research and work on the Channel. I can’t wait to see the photographs.

A nice visit to the island and Painted Cave was enjoyed by all and then on our way back to the harbor, we found one more small but active hot spot that had 2 more humpback whales joining the seabirds and dolphins and sea lions.

This weather pattern has brought very high temperatures on land, but it is truly fantastic out there on the open sea.

I’ll post up the photos sometime tomorrow.

Hope to see you out there next week!
Bob Perry
Condor Express

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