A trip to Santa Rosa Island yields gray whales, humpback whales and dolphins.

Bob Perrywhale watching california

Smoke signals! A humpback whale spouts into the breeze.

2022 05-28 SB Channel

The first part of today’s adventure, i.e., in the northern or coastal section of the Santa Barbara Channel, found a high marine layer with calm seas and no wind. By the time we reached the shipping lanes, however, the wind and seas throttled-up and things got “nautical.” Sightings were wonderful: 4 humpback whales, 6+ Pacific gray whales and 400+ long-beaked common dolphins.

Just 4 miles outbound from Santa Barbara Harbor scattered dolphins quickly led us into a very active group of 400 or so. We stayed and watched (and took advantage of that clear “Santa Barbara cobalt” clear water) as they surfed our side, stern and bow waves.

Further out, south of The Lanes off Carrington Point, Santa Rosa Island, the aforementioned deterioration of sea conditions happened quickly, but not before we watched a small juvenile humpback and a large adult (about a mile away). We did not stop per se on the adult as sea conditions were becoming a challenge.

Dave found shelter from some of the wind and most of the waves by going into Becher’s Bay, Santa Rosa. That “resident” group of Pacific gray whales is still there and still feeding on the bottom. Mud plumes were as common as dorsal ridges and tail flukes.

The trip home was windy but fortunately the seas were astern and the ride was not uncomfortable. Around mid-Channel we saw a pair of surface feeding humpbacks with all sorts of active sea birds…again, it was too rough to “just hang out.”

These rough seas are predicted to continue throughout our neck of the Channel tomorrow, Sunday, and Dave has cancelled the previously scheduled public whale watch for this day.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry
Condor Express, and