A banner season for blue whales.

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The mottled flanks and shape of the small dorsal fin help researchers track blue whale individuals. (Santa Barbara Channel)

2020 07-26 SB Channel

A banner season for blue whales.

A foggy morning did not deter Captain Colton and his crew from transecting the Santa Barbara Channel and finding massive amounts of cetaceans today. The following were closely watched: 15+ giant blue whales, 150 long-beaked common dolphins and 150 short-beaked common dolphins. The giants are now present in substantial numbers making this a banner season for blue whale watching.

On course for Carrington Point, Santa Rosa Island, the Condor Express was located by the first of two moderately large groups of dolphins near the NOAA East Channel buoy.  This first pod was made up of the long-beaked species and we spent some quality time watching them watch us.  Continuing southwest, a similar sized pod of the short-beaked species found us in The Lanes. The short-beaked common dolphins tend to be a more aerial and today was no exception.

“Osprey-eyes” Devin, our deckhand, spotted the first spouts while we were still with the short-beaks. The first blue dove for a comparatively long time but surfaced near the boat after one of its dives. A bit further south, nearer Carrington, there was a massive concentration of giant blue whales. We had time to closely watch an estimated 10 of them, but there were plenty more spouts both to the west and east of our position. Reports of additional blue whale concentrations off Santa Cruz Island also came in.

On our way home we intersected and watched 5 more blue whales that happened to come up for air within immediate visual range. Oh, my!

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry
Condor Express, and

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