Spectacular weather and off the charts whale watching today.
Glassy seas, no swells, blue water, bright sunshine and vistas from Boney Ridge to Pt Conception including all 4 Channel Islands greeted us as we left Santa Barbara Harbor. On the way out to the Santa Cruz Island hot spots. The first cetaceans of the many spotted today were about 1,000 very friendly long-beaked common dolphins. We played for a while and then resumed our course to the south. We were still many miles off the Island when a plethora of spouts came into view. The spouts were popping up from inside the Santa Cruz Channel all the way to the east. Some were tall, and some spouts were taller still. Immediately obvious was the simultaneous breaching of two adult humpback whales side-by-side about a half mile away. Captain Dave set a slow and careful course for these breechers. On the negative side, many of the humpback whales had 15 minute down times; on the positive side, their corresponding surface times were quite long and included some logging here and there. Unusual scene #1 of the day: very close to the Condor Express one humpback charged another while just under the surface and the race was on. Wow. These beasts can really move. Was this a pre-courtship thing? another form of socializing? It was special to see for sure. One Minke whale was also spotted.
About this time our 2nd Captain Eric got his bino’s on one of those “taller still” spouts I mentioned earlier and confirmed the presence of a giant blue whale heading west. We stayed with this giant through several breathing cycles and had fantastic looks….all the while more and more humpback whales were rising up out of the deep. It looks like we are having a possible late season krill explosion over here. Could this be enough to sustain a blue whale for the winter and give us a “resident” beast? Just speculating! After visiting whale after whale, we finally headed over to the northern seacliffs of Santa Cruz and did a tour which included the world famous Painted Cave. Near the cave we had unusual scene #2: a long-beaked common dolphin was observed very close to the boat chasing and “herding” a Risso’s dolphin…visible under the clear blue water.
It was a day to remember for sure.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.Bob Perry
PS No trip on Thanksgiving but we still have space available for this Friday. Hope to see you on board.