Gray whale interacts with large offshore bottlenose pod…and more!

Bob Perrywhale watching california

Chin music. An upside-down gray whale shows its chin during a session that featured lots of interactions with offshore bottlenose dolphins.

2020 01-04 SB Channel

Skies were sunny but hazy.  Seas were calm except for a light chop near Santa Cruz Island.  Again, near the island, we had a moderate breeze that kept things cool if you were not standing in the direct sunlight.  Captain Dave and his crew located 1000 long-beaked common dolphins, 250+ offshore bottlenose dolphins and 1 gray whale.

Common dolphins made up our first encounter, and were north of the island.  They were spread over a huge area and took turns coming to the Condor Express. After the common dolphins Dave took us over to look into the gaping maw of the world’s longest sea cave, the Painted Cave.  A lone young male sea lion was resting on a ledge along the lava walls of the Cave entrance.

After caving, we ran further west and started across the mouth of the Santa Cruz Channel aiming for Santa Rosa Island.  A large pod of high-energy offshore bottlenose dolphins was spread across this region and did not appear to be moving in any one direction.  At the same a sharp-eyed passenger spotted a gray whale in the vicinity.  Soon we had close looks at this adult whale as it seemed to interact with the bottlenose dolphins.  The beast swam upside down, then on its side, it rolled around and even did a mini spy-hop or two. It was a wonderful scene to watch as these two species carried on a bit.  During this time the whale swam around in circles and looped back on its tracks several times.  This reminded us of the fact that the distance from Alaskan waters to the Baja lagoons may be 5000 miles in a straight ocean line, but these whales do not always swim straight at their target.

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