10 humpbacks and some surface lunges, plus dolphins galore

Bob Perrycommon dolphins, Condor Express, humpback whale watching, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Channel, sea lion, shearwaters

A GIANT HUMPBACK WHALE BREAKS THE SURFACE AS IT PERFORMS A VERTICAL LUNGE TO FEED ON A HUGE MOUTHFUL OF NORTHERN ANCHOVIES. BALEEN CAN BE SEEN IN THE UPPER JAW. THE GULAR POUCH IS FULLY DISTENDED WITH WATER AND FISH.

 

2015 08-05 SB Channel

As we departed Santa Barbara at 1015 am there was more than medium chop, winds that formed white caps, and bright sunny skies. This did not deter the keen eyes of deckhand Tasha from locating the first of 4 spouts in this initial region of the Santa Barbara Channel, about 9 miles out. Each of the 4 humpback whales Tasha and Dave located in this region were separated by at least ¼-mile and in some cases 2 miles or more. They were all trending uphill, against the seas and winds during this morning sighting.   After a while Dave moved further west in hopes of increasing our chances for additional #whales. At least 1,300 long-beaked common dolphins also played around in this region, broken into pods of 100 or so individuals. By 1145 am Dave had found 2 more humpback whales and these were heading east.

The winds aloft started to blow the alto cirrus clouds into an array of interesting Rorschach – like patterns. Just after noon the winds started to back off and we located another group of 4 humpback whales that were traveling around individually and showed little interest in each other. Soon a “hot spot” developed with at least 500 #dolphins, California sea lions, black-vented shearwaters, with crashing pelicans and elegant terns. It times one could make out the dark mass of the anchovy bait ball on the surface.   All 4 whales changed directions and headed for this feed bag, and several vertical and horizontal surface lunges were witnessed.   This was spectacular stuff.

At 1230 the bait ball had dissipated or descended into the depths and all of the life started moving downhill, to the east, with the diminishing seas. This course took us back through almost all of the whales we had seen on our earlier westerly route…but we do not count the same whales twice so I shall not give more details except to say there was no more surface feeding or other special humpback behaviors. We also passed by at least 1,000 additional dolphins with no way of knowing if we counted the same ones twice. Oh, well.

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