Humpback whale “stepping stones.”

One Risso's dolphin out of the large herd we saw today.

One Risso’s dolphin out of the large herd we saw today.

I think I’ll author a journal article entitled “Humpback whales as giant stepping stones to the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.” I’ve got a bit more data to collect and of course all that number crunching. But that is how things shaped up out there today. As Captain Dave and the crew pushed offshore, heading south towards Santa Cruz, the Condor Express encountered one feeding cluster of common dolphins and humpback whales after another. It all started just north of the shipping lanes, and we kept “stepping” right up to Santa Cruz. Oh, by the way, none of that nasty fog up in our neck of the Channel today. Just warm, bright sun with very calm seas…perfect for finding and enjoying those spouts.

Talley:
9 humpback whales with more in the area
1500 common dolphins and more
50 sea lions at least
100 Risso’s dolphins
75 Pacific white-sided dolphins
1 huge sunfish (Mola mola)

So as previously stated we walked or hopped to Santa Cruz Island on the hot spot stepping stones. We took a nice tour of the northwestern face of the island, and poked our bow into the world famous Painted Cave (after waiting for Truth Aquatics to get their helmet and headlamp kayak crew deeper into the cave). About that time Captain Dave charted a course back towards Santa Barbara Harbor, but before long his keen eyes spotted a very substantial herd of Risso’s dolphins. When we arrived on the scene, it turned out that the Risso’s were intermingled with Pacific white-sided dolphins, and the smaller white-siders rode the bow a bit. The Risso’s were spread over an big area and were easy to photograph because you could see their big, fat white bodies glowing beneath the surface at quite a distance.

Rafting sea lions everywhere were basking and relaxin’ in the warm sun. It was an epic adventure.

I’ll post up the trip photographs sometime this weekend…I’ve got a monumental pile to edit.

Hope to see you soon!
Bob Perry
Condor Express

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