2018 05-15 SB Channel
Gray whale-watching season for the Condor Express ended last Sunday and today was our first “island whale watch.” It was stupendous! Sightings for the day included: 1,200 long-beaked common dolphins, 5 humpback whales and 1 blue whale. It was sunny with a light breeze out in the Santa Barbara Channel all day.
As we departed Santa Barbara Harbor just after 10am a spread-out feeding group of about 150 dolphins located the Condor Express. There were plenty of upside down dolphins chasing northern anchovies within dispersed hot spots of 8 or 10 dolphins each. Later, on our way across the northbound commercial shipping lanes en route to the west end of Santa Cruz Island, a much larger group of dolphins were encountered. As earlier, these dolphins were also spread out and busy feeding, but were spread out in all directions as far as the eye could see. Over 1,000 animals were estimated…it could easily have been more if we had some accurate, scientific way of counting them.
Around 1145 am, 2nd Captain Tasha spotted the first of our humpback whales as it was moving east a few miles north of the island. It had very long down times so when she spotted two more humpbacks about ½ mile away, we headed that way. We had great looks and several very nice tail flukes to make the encounter a good one. A very tall spout was seen several times far to the east but heading our way. It was a giant blue whale and turned out to be a spectacular sighting. The giant spouted 5 or 6 times, fluked-up, dove and stayed down about 10 minutes (which is short for a giant blue whale). We were able to enjoy multiple breathing cycles with blue water, blue skies and this fantastic giant blue whale.
Not far from the giant blue, and on our way back home, we could not help but watch another pair of humpbacks. The two were so active we saw splashing and white water over a mile away. There was plenty of pectoral fin slapping, tail slapping, and best of all, a whole bunch of nice breaches from one of the two. Wow!
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Condor Express, and