The crew got a bit worried when they could not see the cruise ship at anchor, or Stern’s Wharf either, due to early morning fog. But by the time the cruise ship passengers got on board the Condor Express and we left the dock, the fog lifted to just normal low stratus. Seas had a light chop, slight breeze, and not much swell. Sightings for the day included nearly 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins, 1 humpback whale and 1 blue whale.
A pod of 100 or so dolphins came to the boat when we were just 5 miles out of Santa Barbara Harbor. There were plenty of smiles all around and the encounter was very good.
In The Lanes a larger group of dolphins found us and repeated the earlier encounter on a grand scale. South of The Lanes and east of The Cave we spotted that small, speckled humpback whale that has a uniquely powerful aroma emanating from its spout spray. The crew has been calling it Stinky and it a term of endearment since this whale has been a regular sight for the past month or so.
Not long after our humpback whale visit a large blue whale was spotted along with another 200 dolphins. The whale had short, 6-minute, down times and did the “blue whale circle” swim on the surface each time it came up. It was a magnificent beast.
The final sighting included a trip along the rugged sea cliffs of Santa Cruz Island and inside the entry chamber of the world-famous Painted Cave. Captain Dave provided a concise summary of the paleontology, geologic history, prehistoric human habitation, and the great on-going conservation efforts at Santa Cruz Island.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.