2016 06-01 SB Channel
It’s been years since we’ve had a nice build-up of krill along “The Ledge” (north face of SCI, SRI and SMI), and with it the surface lunge-feeding blue whales and humpback whales. Today was the day and conditions were mill pond mirror glass in the feeding zone. But wait! There is more to today’s story.
Right off the bat Capt Eric located a nice pod of 9 inshore bottlenose dolphins inside of the green buoy and followed them into the East Beach Anchorage. The inshore water has cleared up enough to really see these medium-sized animals underwater as well as topside. They always seem to be as curious about their fans on the Condor Express as we are about them. Not long after leaving the bottlenose we headed west and ran from pod to pod…the region was teeming with long-beaked common dolphin herds, some with 1,000 or more individuals, and some with “only” 600 or 800. There was a little bit of feeding going on, and a little bit of mating. At one point, one of the larger herds we watched suddenly stepped on the accelerator pedal and went into “stampede” mode. What a spectacle it was. By the end of the day we watched in excess of 3,000 common dolphins.
Our first of seven total humpback whales was located within a dolphin hot spot about 5 miles south of Hendry’s beach. It had long down times but did make one very close pass by the boat to make the photographers taking whalefies happy. We moved to the south aiming for the Santa Cruz Channel. Along the way we came across a wide oceanic front with lots of microdebris, a little macroalgae, and a whole bunch of purple sailors (Velella velella). Later we passed a region with widespread tiny, juvenile Velella.
Around 1225pm we entered a region of abundant surface krill and surface lunge-feeding humpback whales and blue whales. We watched two blue whales but there were several more up off Carrington. We also watched at least 7 humpback whales with the same caveat. Krill patches were here and there and Eric stopped on one so we could look at the surface crustaceans. Sadly, one of the humpback whales in the mix was towing a long line with yellow floats indicating probable entanglement in commercial fishing gear. The entanglement was not a tail or fluke wrap as a close view of this animal fluking-up showed no line attachment there. The rescue team was notified and will undoubtedly mobilize asap.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.