2017 06-26 SB Channel
Wind and seas may have stopped a Santa Barbara Channel crossing to the blue whale feeding grounds, but it did not stop the massive numbers of highly active humpback whales and dolphins. 15 humpbacks and 2,400 long-beaked common dolphins were closely watched today out on the 100-fathom curve in front of Santa Barbara.
It is always a good omen when we encounter a nice group of feeding dolphins just outside the red and white Santa Barbara Harbor entrance buoy. And so it was today, despite a very stiff breeze and moderately bumpy conditions, Captain Dave and his crew watched this first group then slowly took a southwesterly track. About 3 miles out from UCSB, an initial group of at least 12 humpback whales was located (with many more spouts all around). A few hundred dolphins were there, too. One of the 12 was a humpback mother with her very active calf. Boy, it is sure exciting to watch a motivated young whale against a background of whitecaps and blue water. The 12 whales dispersed and disappeared quite mysteriously, however.
With wind and seas from the west, Dave figured it would be a much calmer ride to put the elements astern and head southeast. About 8 miles outside the Harbor, the “missing” 12 humpbacks had joined several other whales and formed a big pod of at least 15, probably more. Now a couple thousand dolphins, spread along a 1 mile track, were also on the scene and feeding on small patches of dispersed northern anchovies. Where the dolphins went, the whales soon followed. It was quite a show.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.