9 Whales and 600 Dolphins

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Gray whales heading south to Baja California Sur

2020 01-31 SB Channel 

It was a marvelously sunny and calm day in the Channel from Santa Barbara all the way out to Santa Cruz Island. Sightings for the trip included a robust nine gray whales, and 600 long-beaked common dolphins.

The trip got started fast as a small group of 50 dolphins located the boat while they were actively feeding on the surface. The water was crystal clear and blue, so you could see the anchovy school and watch the dolphins as they were feeding.

Not far away we found our first gray whale of the day. It was a small one, and like the whale we saw yesterday it too was heading north. We still wonder why they do it. Why swim all this way from Alaska only to turn around and go home early. Perhaps the small ones are non-breeders. Perhaps they run out of energy and want to pace themselves for the trip back.

Dave took us on a trip along the majestic sea cliffs of Santa Cruz Island and included a bonus peek inside the worlds longest sea cave, the Painted Cave. From The Cave we moved farther west and up into Santa Cruz Channel. Not long after we rounded the corner we encountered the first of two groups of four whales. It is always fun to see so many grays at once. After good looks we turned to the general direction of home and then encountered the second group. The second group was highly social. There was a lot of rolling around, swimming on their side and other sorts of frisky behavior. 

On the way back we did encounter two larger groups of dolphins with about 200 individuals each. It was a great day for cetacean watching including both the large and the small species.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry
Condor Express, and
CondorExpressPhotos.com

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