2017 07-03 SB Channel
Calm seas, no swell, and sunny skies – ideal wildlife conditions prevailed in the Santa Barbara Channel today. Captain Eric and his crew located the following animals: 7 humpback whales, 1 blue whale, 100 offshore bottlenose dolphins, 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins and one Mola mola (ocean sunfish).
Out on the 50-fathom line, as has been the case for a few days, Captain Eric steered the Condor Express through numerous patches of 100 or so common dolphins as they searched and destroyed isolated anchovy schools. As earlier this week, the dolphins and their troop of California sea lions and hungry sea birds, soon attracted humpback whales. The whales followed the dolphins, gulped down most of each school of fish, then moved on to the next dolphin patch. Among the humpback today there was a mother and her calf.
On the way south to Santa Cruz Island a large Mola mola (ocean sunfish) was observed on the glassy ocean surface. These fish are wonderful to watch, particularly on sunny, calm days. Soon we were running along the giant blue whale feeding grounds and searching. The single giant we located today was “Camelo,” the somewhat deformed blue whale with a camel-like hump on its back. Regular readers of my reports have heard about this individual several times over the years.
On the way home to Santa Barbara harbor, as the boat crossed The Lanes, a huge pod of at least 100 offshore bottlenose dolphins found the boat. This was a nursery pod with nearly half of the animals being calves. Some of the calves were very tiny newborn “infants” still showing the bars of their fetal folds. Very few males were in the group. These large dolphins chased the boat when we were running at speed, but lost interest when we slowed down to look at them. So we sped up again.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.