Captain Scott steered the Condor (“big bird”) out into the Santa Barbara Channel at noon today with many passengers from all over the world. This was a stunning day with warm sun and very little wind. The water remains very clear and blue. A few miles south we located 2 gray whales, large animals, heading west (northbound). They traveled a straight and narrow course with regular 4 minute down times. They were beautiful in the bright sunlight. Next we located and had a fleeting look at a single small gray whale heading south. This is the time of the migration when some are still heading for Mexico and others are starting back Alaska.
Three gray whales were next seen near the beach and they came very close to the Condor. It was two large animals and one much smaller, perhaps it was a yearling. The little guy rolled around a few times and was very friendly. The crystal water clarity enhanced this sighting for sure…fabulous looks. They were initially southbound, but later turned around and became northbound whales.
A single, fairly shy whale was sighted inside the kelp line, and was going nowhere in particular….it was milling. Later this single would join the previous three and form a quad pod of gray whales heading southbound. With a total of 7 nice gray whale observations on our camera sensors, we started back to the harbor. It was not long, however, until we were surrounded by 100 or so long-beaked common dolphins…our last cetacean sighting of the trip.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
PS I’m working hard to get today’s photographs posted to the web no later than tomorrow night.