Extremely calm seas greeted Captain Dave and the crew of the Condor Express as they headed south to Santa Cruz Island. The low stratus was with us most of the day and a little bit of warm sun peeked through out near the Island. Little to no wind occurred until late in the excursion. Sightings today included at least 800 long-beaked common dolphins, 500 or so short-beaked common dolphins, 4 or 5 Risso’s dolphins, 1 humpback whale and 2 blue whales with another one in the distance. California sea lions were scattered around each activity zone and hauled on the two harbor entrance buoys. Pacific harbor seals were seen on the bait receiver and in the waters around it.
Not far out from our departure point at Santa Barbara Harbor a nice super pod of long-beaked common dolphins came to the boat and gave everyone great looks and wonderful selfies. After a while we continued south.
About an hour later Dave spotted a few tall fins ahead of the boat. The diffused light from the thick stratus made these cetaceans appear to be dark black with a large white saddle across the dorsal region just ahead of the dorsal fin. When we arrived on the scene and the whales were next to the boat, it turned out to be a group of 4 or 5 all grey Risso’s dolphins. At this point second-captain-and-deck-hand Tasha had spotted a nice whale spout through her binoculars. It was a small, perhaps young, humpback whale. This whale was characterized by highly specked poxy skin, a back deformity ahead of the dorsal fin, and its small length.
Moving closer to Santa Cruz Island, Dave spotted two giant blue whales close together on the surface and a third blue whale a little bit west of our location. These beautiful lady whales had normal down and surface times, circled around on the surface as they tend to do, and one of them fluked-up 2 or 3 times. The sun had just come out and the legendary “blue streak” was seen by all.
Just north of mid-Channel, and on the way home, a large pod of short-beaked common dolphins came to the boat. At first they were on a high speed stampede to the northwest, but as the boat approached most of them broke out and the herd dispersed. Many of the beasts were “high flyers” which is always spectacular to witness.
At one point, as the short-beaked common dolphins ran by the boat, a 5-foot blue shark was noticed finning along on the surface. The dolphin herd had gone right over, around and through it without missing a stroke. Wow!
By the way, the grilled turkey and Swiss sandwich is a killer…ask Jill to make you one.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.