2016 02-17 SB Channel
There was light rain falling in the harbor as the Condor Express loaded its passengers for the 9am excursion. Rain continued, albeit very light, throughout the morning and into the 12 noon trip as well. A tiny breeze from the south created miniscule wind waves on the otherwise glassy surface. Neither snow nor hail nor very light rain deters the crew and whale fans on board the Condor ! Here is their story:
Just outside the harbor there were 25 long-beaked common dolphins (out of a total 125 observed on this trip) feeding on a small northern anchovy bait ball. Captain Dave put us in a great position to see the action. Soon we had about 5 Pacific white-sided dolphins join the feeding. Pushing further to the southeast to the edge of the Flats we encountered a lone juvenile humpback whale that became very friendly. It not only approached the boat several times but actually hovered about 10 feet below the surface and sometimes under the catamaran hull of the Condor Express. This humpback whale had white pectoral flukes and could be seen clearly by all. About 100 more dolphins and a gang of California sea lions were in this same area. Additional spouts could be seen a few miles east of us.
Again we were greeted by about 25 long-beaked common dolphins about 15 minutes south of the harbor. Dave slowed and played and made everyone happy. Continuing southeast, it was not long before we found ourselves off Platform Henry where Dave gave one of his now famous talks about the offshore platforms that pump oil and gas down to Los Angeles. This time his dialogue was interrupted for a few minutes as we watched a not-quite-fully-grown male Stellar sea lion that occupied the entire top step or landing pad on the rig’s stairway. What a beast.
Soon after watching the Stellar sea lions we had a nice visit with a young gray whale heading northbound south of Hogan. Not only did this little guy breach twice not far from the Condor, but it came directly over to us and rolled upside down within a few yards. I thought I was in San Ignacio for a few minutes! Not long after the gray whale continued north, we located a trio of humpback whales feeding, including one that was lunge feeding on the surface, kind of a sideways, rather than vertical, series of lunges. About 100 additional dolphins (125 approximate total) joined the feeding. Soon two more humpback whales came were attracted by the food and feeding for a total of 5 humpback whales on this trip. The trip took place against a fantastic sky-cloud pattern backdrop, with various types of storm related clouds and rain squalls mostly obscuring any sunlight. Fantastic!
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.