4 humpbacks, loads of sea lions, thousands of dolphins, and an infinite number of Velella

Bob Perrywhale watching california

California sea lions are often associated with humpback whales. Often it looks like they are "playing with the whales." (And sometimes the whales seem to get agitated by their presence).

2019 05-09 SB Coast

It was mirror glassy calm with a low marine stratus layer all day as the Condor Express took off into the Channel twice, once a 9a and again at 12n.  Sightings for the day included:  Velella velella =  ∞ , California sea lions = 150, humpback whales = 4 and at least 3,000 long-beaked common dolphins. Details to follow below.

The morning adventure found the Condor Express almost immediately surrounded by a huge megapod of dolphins that extended many miles in all directions.  The pod was working on (in, and around) huge amounts of bait.  Sea birds and sea lions were also actively feeding.  Before long, as hoped and predicted, the whales showed up to help deplete the over-abundance of food.  It was spectacular.

The afternoon excursion also found the dolphins, birds and sea lions.  This time a single, small, juvenile whale was in the zone.  This little whale had an “entourage” of 15 or 20 dedicated sea lions interacting with it.  The furry mammals jumped all around the whale and swam under it.  When the whale dove, they dove with it.  When the sea lions returned to the surface to breathe, you knew the whale was going to soon follow.  What a great sight this was to see.

Speaking of sights to see, the entire coastal zone is now festooned with the pelagic hydrozonal Velella velella, or “by the wind sailor.”  Rather than being widely dispersed, today they were seen in long and massive winnows associated with the streaks of natural oil seepage that comes down the coast from Coal Oil Point and lots of other seeps in the southern California bight.

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