Gorgeous Fall sea conditions. Gorgeous whales. Gorgeous dolphin herds.

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A chin-slapping humpback whale in the Santa Barbara Channel. Some think this helps rinse baleen. I think it also might be a form of socialization and communication.

2021 09-30 SB Channel

Sunny skies and calm seas prevailed across the Channel today and this phenomenal weather was accompanied by equally fabulous sightings. We closely watched 9 humpback whales (not including re-sightings) and 2500 long-beaked common dolphins.

Our first encounters took place about 9 miles out from Santa Barbara Harbor, still well north of The Lanes. Here we started to see hundreds of dolphins feeding subsurface and, thus, attracting or first two humpback whales. After some very nice looks, Captain Dave and the crew continued their trek southward.

In the 1 mile wide separation zone between northbound and southbound commercial shipping traffic we found more dolphins and an additional 4 humpbacks. One individual continually slapped its chin (see today’s photo for and example), and the other repeatedly rolled around, slapped pectoral fins and socialized between dives, on the surface.

Continuing south, an additional 2 whales were watched just 2 miles before we reached the Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island. Again, great looks were had in this wonderful sunny, calm environment. Dave took us on a brief tour of the tall sea cliffs, cracks, nags and crannies along the northern face of west Santa Cruz Island. He then performed a coup de gras and put the nose of the Condor Express inside the Painted Cave.

After exiting The Cave and heading home, we found a single juvenile whale which, as we were watching it, joined up with a trio of whales which were watched earlier as a group of 4. What fun!

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Bob Perry
Condor Express, and
CondorExpressPhotos.com

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