2018 08-26 SB Channel
Although there was a residual swell in the Santa Barbara Channel, the ocean calmed down and conditions near Santa Rosa Island were ideal for locating and watching wildlife. The hot spot today was much larger and had more players involved. Captain Tasha reported 2500 long-beaked common dolphins, 25 Risso’s dolphins, 7 humpback whales and 1000 California sea lions. Among the humpbacks, the same little calf (with its mother) put on another great display of youthful exuberance.
Common dolphins were all over the area and led the way as the other predators such as whales and sea lions attacked the northern anchovy bait balls. Mostly the bait was in shallow, sub-surface waters, but at one point (the 5th and 6th whales seen) did some surface lunge feeding among one of the giant rafts of sea lions. Humpbacks have to be very precise when feeding like this, not only to efficiently engulf prey, but also to avoid taking a sea lion (or brown pelican) by accident. Large animals inside the mouth can easily damage baleen plates.
The little humpback calf did quite a bit of rolling around today as well as spending some time slapping its pectoral fins. Recent studies suggest tail throws, pectoral slaps and breaching are necessary to stimulate the production of muscle myoglobin, an oxygen storing molecule. Hence the juveniles are not only active for fun, but MUST be active as it affects their development to adulthood.
On the way home, more common dolphins were seen and a small herd of Risso’s dolphins came by the Condor Express.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Condor Express, and