Captain Dave headed out of the shoot for the southern edge of the Santa Barbara Channel today, but his trip was interrupted fairly quickly by a humpback whale and some common dolphins pretty darned close to the Harbor. It was a special view with the dorsal surface reflecting off the mirror ocean surface. This is the blue, clear water region of the Channel right now, and the view of the common dolphins (of which we estimated about 1500 total individuals today) under the water is very cool
Before long Dave pushed southward. Along the way he stopped and we all got great looks at a fairly large ocean sunfish (Mola mola), which was not a huge as yesterday’s behemoth, but still muy gordo. We ran through the shipping lanes without big mammals being there, but there were lots of California sea lions taking advantage of the calm seas to rest on the surface with their pectoral flippers in the air like the humpback whales do sometimes when they slap the water.
We ran along the island shelf break for a few miles until deckhand Erik saw some spouts just offshore of the “gap” between Santa Rosa Island and Santa Cruz Island (real name: Santa Cruz Channel). It turned out that this territory was very productive and yielded 4 more humpback whales, scads of common dolphins and numerous sea birds. Not to forget one more cetacean species to add to the list for today’s great variety: about a dozen Risso’s dolphins also passed through this area.
Spending just the right amount of time cruising along slowly through all this wildlife, we finally headed over to Santa Cruz Island and a visit to the world famous Painted Cave. Along the face of the western end we spotted a large juvenile bald eagle soaring overhead. Wow!
This was a epic adventure made even better by the wonderful calmness of the ocean today.
PS I’ll post up the photos from today’s trip sometime tomorrow.