Large numbers of humpback whales and 2 species of dolphins.

Bob Perrywhale watching california

A tracing of our course today from Santa Barbara Harbor to the Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island, and back. Courtesy of

2020 11-12 SB Channel

Captain Dave reported calm seas, as faint breeze, sunny skies and wonderful cetacean interactions on a trip across the Santa Barbara Channel that reached the world-famous Painted Cave. Sighting included 1500 long-beaked common dolphins, 25 offshore bottlenose dolphins and 8+ humpback whales.

About 6 miles offshore and west of the NOAA buoy a mega-pod of nearly 1000 common dolphins located the Condor Express. It was a very friendly visit although the pod was primarily focused on feeding. There was sea bird activity as well as that of the dolphins. We expected to find at least one humpback in this hot spot to no avail. We continued south towards The Cave.

About 5 miles later, we encountered 4 humpbacks. There were two, singleton smaller whales and a pair of large adults. After a few diving cycles at a short distance from the Condor Express, the pair began to show interest. Soon there was a full-blown mugging session with both whales right next to our hulls. The whales dove beneath the boat for 4 or 5 minutes a few times and their presence was deduced by continuous bubble streams coming up from beneath us. The mugging behavior also included some chin-level spy-hopping.

Nearby we watched two additional whales and then moved a short distance to watch #7 and #8. These four were not full grown animals and not as friendly as the adults were earlier in the trip. Many more spouts were reported by the crew, both near and far.

Dave move to the western sea cliffs of Santa Cruz Island and gave his well-honed talk about the island. We ended the island portion of the trip with a look inside the first chamber of the Painted Cave…especially nice given the calm seas today. Near the cave entrance we had a wonderful encounter with offshore bottlenose dolphins. This group was friendly and included numerous calves.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry
Condor Express, and