A humpback whale swam up close to the Condor Express, rolled over to expose its ventral grooves, and slapped its long pectoral flippers. Wow!

Mother humpback and her calf go berserk.

2018 09-25 SB Channel

Overcast skies stayed with us most of the day until we got on the hotspot out near Santa Rosa Island. Seas were calm in the north Channel and a little breezy in the south. Sightings for the day included: 2 humpback whales, 1500 long-beaked common dolphins, 100 Risso’s dolphins and about 500 California sea lions.

There were only a couple of scattered dolphin pods in the Channel and all of the action was located a few miles north of Carrington Point, Santa Rosa Island. The sharp eyes of 2nd Captain Colton caught a breach out of the corner of his eye, and this led us to a compact area with common dolphins, seabirds, sea lions and our 2 whales.  The pair of whales were a mother humpback and her calf that we’ve been seeing quite a bit over the past weeks.  The mom is huge and her calf is small, probably a newborn of the season.

Things were quite serene until the sea lions started to pester the whales.  This seemed to get both mom and her calf all fired up.  The calf started off by rolling around, slapping its pectoral fins and, later, throwing its tail.  Mom soon joined in with lots of pectoral slaps and rolling.  The pair stayed close so at times both were active and vocalizing (trumpet blows) simultaneously.  Later a large and widely-dispersed group of Risso’s dolphins came through the area and a few of them joined the sea lions by getting too close and agitating the whales even more.

All of this wonderful activity was wonderful to see and I was glad to be there with camera in hand.  Oh, one more sighting…among all the active black-vented shearwaters that were on the spot, a lone northern fulmar flew in and landed on the water right next to the Condor Express.  We had wonderful looks at this tube-snout.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Bob Perry
Condor Express, and
CondorExpressPhotos.com