Anacapa Island (left) and Santa Cruz Island (right) help frame a magnificent breach from a mighty humpback whale today… one of a pair of whales that breached out of the blue within seconds of each other. Oh, yeah Baby ! It’s December in paradise.
The sun played peek-a-boo with the thin high cloud layer and the cloud layer seemed to win. Right out of the gate we encountered a nice group of around 15 inshore bottlenose dolphins and had great looks. Not long after we had a call and ran 1/2 mile to photograph a “dead Minke whale,” which turned out to be a very decomposed Risso’s dolphin with a live western gull having some snacks. Then it was off to view living cetaceans and it was a bunch of small scattered groups of long beaked common dolphins. Later in the trip we found a tad larger larger pods of these little torpedoes and the total for the day was over 100. Their fan club on the Condor Express enjoyed the bow riding and wake surfing contest. Around mid-Channel we slowly approached an area that had two nice spouts and I almost dropped my memory cards as two adult humpback whales came out of nowhere and breached fairly close to the boat sending a thunderous spray plume high in the air. After a few minutes one of the pair performed a small repertoire of pectoral fin slapping in the sun’s sparkle zone on the surface. Our itinerary next found us enjoying the tiny trickle remnants of the waterfall that often flows at the entrance of the world famous Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island. (The waterfall was running nicely yesterday but was down to a trickle today). Near the Island a third humpback whale was spotted by yours truly but was smoking fast to the west and only taking on breath per surface interval. Nonetheless it was nice to see the all white tail of this beast close to Santa Cruz.
The trip home was very pleasant and Captain Eric, Deck hand Augie, and Cafe Condor head chef Tasha all agreed that it “felt like winter was coming.”
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
PS I’ll post up the photos from today’s adventure sometime on Monday.