When humpback whales are very close, almost anyone can smell them. But it takes a seasoned veteran captain like Captain Dave to sniff-out cetaceans when they are 8 or 10 miles “out there.” After an initial contact with a humpback whale just outside Santa Barbara Harbor, Dave pushed offshore keeping the moderate chop on our bow quarter for a smoother ride. It was not too long until Dave’s keen eyes (and nose) located one of the most massive oceanic hot spots I’ve seen in years. No kidding. This huge patch of activity stretched across at least 5 football fields and was about one football field wide. Here we found an inestimable number of actively feeding common dolphins and their aerial companions such as sooty sheareaters, western gulls, Heermann’s gulls, brown pelicans and…..another five humpback whales. I cannot imagine the size of the anchovy school that must have lied just beneath the surface of this massive feeding frenzy. There was also a minke whale spotted just before we got into the zone of life. California sea lions were everywhere, joining in the food fest. Most curiously, about a dozen “Lags,” or Pacific white-sided dolphins, nicknamed after their scientific genus Lagenorhynchus, came alongside and rode our bow wake into the fray.
This was not one of those momentary spots that come together fast, then dissipate equally fast. We were on station about two hours. This is one reason why the Condor Express is one of the best whale watching platforms in southern California and L.A.
I’ll post up the rest of my photos sometime later this weekend….I’ve made a huge amount of “work” for myself!
Don’t forget that tomorrow’s trip runs 1pm to 530pm.