Late summer, fantastic conditions, great wildlife !
The ocean surface was like a mirror most of the day and the morning stratus burned off around noon. We ran the northeast Santa Barbara Channel up and down and found some amazing wildlife. Long beaked common dolphins were once again everywhere and a very crude estimate of their abundance might be around 3,500. Minke whales were very showy and although we easily watched 5 or 6 within close visual range, there were at least that many more all around the zone. Yesterday we photographed one Minke whale with a saw tooth trailing edge to its dorsal fin. We are on the lookout for this individual now that we know how to recognize it clearly. California sea lions were also very abundant and everywhere we roamed. The purple sailor jellies, Velella velella, were far more abundant today, and several were devoured right before our eyes by one of at least 7 closely watched ocean sunfish, Mola mola. There are photos of all this including Mola eating Velella, and I’ll get them posted no later than Sunday. We watched two humpback whales, a fairly shy whale (i.e., long down times) and then, further south, a very cooperative small humpback. This one surfaced close to the Condor Express a few times and was a lot of fun to watch. Seabirds included a few very large congregations of Brandt’s cormorants, a few black vented shearwaters, lots of elegant terns, and several small flocks of red necked phalaropes. Wow, what a great week this has been.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.