ACS-LA Charter yields blues, humpbacks and more

Bob Perryblue whales, common dolphins, Condor Express, humpback whales, Santa Barbara Channel, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island

A mighty blue whale spout near Santa Cruz Island

2018 07-21 SB Channel-ACS

The American Cetacean Society, Los Angeles Chapter, ran their annual summer all-day whale watching trip today.  When we departed Santa Barbara Harbor at 8 am, skies were covered by a thin low stratus layer.  Seas were calm with a light breeze and some very tiny chop on the surface.  By 10 am we were well under way with marine mammals and the skies cleared…it was sunny and warm for the remainder of the day.  Sightings for the day included: 3 blue whales, 2+ humpback whales, 1 Mola mola (ocean sunfish), 250 long-beaked common dolphins and 50 short-beaked common dolphins.  Several nice pelagic bird species were also sighted and include: northern fulmar, red-necked phalarope, long-tailed jaeger, pomarine jaeger, pigeon guillemots, and more.

The nearshore waters still had many small bait ballsvvisible on the surface, and it is amazing that neither humpback nor Minke whales were seen feeding on these northern anchovy patches these past few days.  Two small groups of long-beaked common dolphins were seen, but not associated with the anchovy patches.  Captain Dave, with second Captains Tasha and Colton, took a southeasterly course heading and aimed for the areas off eastern Santa Cruz Island and West Anacapa Island where blue whales and fin whales have been seen all week.  Two nice giant blues were watched closely, as was a single, large Mola mola (ocean sunfish).  The second blue whale surfaced very close to the boat a few times in a row and this was fantastic to see.

Later a larger pod of long-beaked common dolphins moved through the whale grounds, and after a while longer several dozen short-beaked common dolphins also came by.  After some great long looks at the two blues and the dolphins, Dave headed west, up the northern face of Santa Cruz Island.  Eventually he took us into the world famous Painted Cave which is currently inhabited by lots of pigeon guillemots.

Continuing west, we located another giant blue whale in The Lanes off Santa Rosa Island and had good looks.

We ran out of time and headed for the Harbor, and very quickly found one humpback whale, then a second humpback which was seen breaching and tail-throwing.  A few other humpbacks were in the area but are not included in the counts.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Bob Perry
Condor Express, and
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