Acute Spoutitis Outbreak Today
I looked up the symptoms for “acute spoutitis” in my Physicians Desk Reference and I think I’ve got it, along with a boat load of our whale watching brothers and sisters. Symptoms include such things as seeing spouts before your eyes when you get back to the dock and are walking through the Condor Express parking lot, and a sore neck from swiveling the head 180-degrees to observe all the whale spouts everywhere near and far. The PDR describes the cause of spoutitis as the observation of too many whale spouts within a single expedition day. Yup. I think we’ve got it. Second Captain Eric suggested a preventative measure early in the trip. Don’t stand there and swivel your head, just keep your eyes on the whales as you change your stance from facing the bow to facing the stern. Eric also is the first to admit that using his method, you cannot count the same whales twice just because you are facing a different direction and looking over the other shoulder. Great point!
Seriously, the Santa Barbara Channel was chock full of cetaceans today and here’s the real story. We left the dock and headed to the eastern Channel feeding grounds. There we found 2 pairs of humpback whale, one pair going east, the other going west. We had great looks and the sea conditions (but not the pinnipeds) were stellar. We were drawn to the area by a massive full body breach followed by a series of pectoral fin slaps by the largest of the four #whales. It was a bright sunny day with nearly no wind and a tiny swell from the southwest. One could see Boney Ridge to the east and Pt. Conception to the west. There were no dolphins to be seen in the eastern Channel. After a great time with the #humpbacks, Captain Dave started heading towards Santa Cruz Island.
Just south of the shipping lanes things began to heat up. We saw medium tall spouts everywhere and a couple of very very tall spouts too. A megapod of at least 1,000 long beaked common dolphins came over to play. As we slowly worked our way from east to west along the famous sub-surface ridge that parallels Santa Cruz Island, we saw single humpbacks, duets, trios and even a few quartets. The bright sun being at an angle this time of year really emphasizes the spout spray and it was visually magnificent. Soon the reason for the very very tall spouts mentioned earlier became apparent. We got located on a giant blue whale and had some fantastic looks. There was a second tall spout going the opposite direction so I suspect there were several blue whales in the area. Oh, what a fabulous sight this was to behold. Spouts everywhere on a spectacular sunny day in November. Whooo-eee!
Lastly we had to head back towards Santa Barbara Harbor. But wait! Near mid-Channel we found 3 more humpback whales and another fast megapod of at least another 1,000 long beaked commons. One of the 3 humpbacks threw its tail perhaps 20 times or more in a row.
By the time we entered the Harbor quite a bit later than our schedule shows, we had closely watched 23 humpback whales with many more spouts all around. No kidding there must have been over 30 humpbacks all over, on both sides of the Channel today. Add 1 giant blue whale (and probably a second one), plus 2,000 dolphins, and now you know why I came down with acute spoutitis. By the way, there is only one cure for this condition. I’ll be back on board the Condor Express tomorrow as we head back to the same hot spots. The weather forecast remains fantastic. Hope to see you on board. I won’t post today’s photographs online until at least Sunday.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.