8 humpback whales – surface lunge feeding – dolphins too

Bob Perrycommon dolphins, Condor Express, humpback whales, Santa Cruz Island, sea lion

Humpback whale surface lunge feeding.

2018 08-30 SB Channel

Today the Condor Express worked a hot spot near The Lanes, and adjacent to the western end of Santa Cruz Island. Despite the moderately choppy and windy conditions, Captain Dave and the crew located 8 humpback whales, 2000 long-beaked common dolphins, 300 California sea lions and masses of various predatory sea birds.

Highlights of the day included dolphins, humpbacks, and sea lions feeding together on shallow bait balls.  At one point, the bait rose to the top and some nice instances of surface lunge-feeding by the humpbacks were observed.  This is always a wonderful treat and reminiscent of National Geographic or Marlin Perkins “Wild Kingdom” (for any old timers out there).

Captain Dave can often spot bait balls under the surface by the discoloration of the water and sometimes a “rain like” texture caused by the anchovies.  Next the whole anchovy school seems to rise up on the bow wave caused by the lunging humpback, and small fish are seen jumping every which way trying to escape the massive mouths of the whales.  Next the whale’s open mouth comes into view and you can often look right down into it and have a Jonah-like Old Testament experience.  The soft pink palate of the upper jaw is seen, and the baleen the bushy that surrounds it, too.  At this point there is a huge mouthful of fish and, as the jaws come back to a closed position, water is ejected through the baleen and thousands of fish become a small fraction of dinner for the beast.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Bob Perry
Condor Express, and
CondorExpressPhotos.com