Humpbacks with their sea lion buddies.

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A hot spot in the Santa Barbara Channel with humpback whales, California sea lions and predatory sea birds.

2021 04-22 SB Channel

5 humpback whales, 12 Pacific harbor seals and 350 California sea lions were closely watched on a single excursion that left the docks at 12 noon. Skies were covered by a thin stratus layer, but seas were quite calm and perfectly adequate for finding marine mammals.

After scouring the coastal kelp beds for gray whale calves and finding none, we moved offshore in search of humpbacks.  [NOTE: the gray whale migration, with mom’s and their calves, is still quite active and will persist until at least the second week of May. It’s a long coastline and the animals travel in bunches, so it is possible, like today, to not get lucky on a single trip]. We’ll try again tomorrow!

About 5 miles off Hope Ranch we located our first humpback whales. It was a pair with one whale being much larger than the other…the small one not necessarily being a calf…perhaps a small juvenile.  The surrounding zone was flooded with California sea lions and predatory/noisy sea birds. After a nice visit we moved east about 1 mile and found 3 adult humpbacks. Again, there were lots of sea lions and birds. As we watched the trio, the original pair came in with their sea lion entourage and for a while our area had all the mammals feeding together just below the surface. There was at least one incident of sideways surface lunge feeding observed.

Inside Santa Barbara Harbor the bait barge has once again loaded up with harbor seals trying to sleep and enjoy the warmth of hauling out.  Today there were a dozen of these chubby pinnipeds.

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

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