2016 06-22 SB Channel
The low stratus hit the deck not too far out so Captain Dave turned on the radar and posted a lookout. We were temporarily using our sense of smell to locate whales as taught by one of our CINC naturalist friends years ago. There was no swell and the little chop that was coming down the coast had medium intervals and the ride was gentle and smooth. We did not see much until our deckhand today “ojos del águila” Auggie, located about 5 high speed chubby little cetaceans with coloration similar to an Orca…Dall’s porpoise. We got two or three looks and they disappeared to porpoiseland. The stratus had thinned out a bit which made this sighting possible.
About a half hour later the fog was still thin and we were in The Lanes watching two humpback whales, one large, one small (but not a calf). These two beasts were lung-feeding on surface krill (photos should confirm/reject this hypothesis) for a nice period of time before they split up and swam off in opposite directions. A fin whale came close to the boat and swam down our starboard side. Wow!
At this point the stratus fell to the deck again and we were back on “smelldar” (like the smell “radar” used by the shearwater and other tubesnout pelagic birds) and running along The Ledge. And to prove smelldar in humans works, it only took 15 minutes to find the first of 3 blue whales. It was a nice, medium sized blue. After what seemed like a long surface interval it dove down nevermore to be seen through our foggy eyes and wide open nostrils. A half hour later we found a big sunny spot, what Alaskan fishermen call a “sucker hole.” Here we watched the remaining two blue whales including one that fluked up and showed a tail with a large notch taken out of the right fluke.
Dave ran The Ledge until more stratus resulted in zero visibility, and we were running a tad late so he set a course for Santa Barbara. Around 2 pm Auggie found a herd of at least 250 long-beaked common dolphins and Dave ran with them for a while because they, too , were headed for the harbor. Just outside the harbor there was a big ocean sunfish (Mola mola) on the port side. If you were not on the port side (or bow) you may have missed it.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.