September 18, 2016 – Limited visibility at times with semi-foggy conditions and flat glass ocean surface created a wonderful backdrop to a day full of cetaceans. Total sightings for the day included at least 5,000 long-beaked common dolphins, 1 humpback whale and a pod of 8 Bigg’s killer whales (Orcinus orca). Captain Eric and his crew were on board and here is the story.
The day started off with dense fog and less than ¼ mile visibility at times. Later things opened up a little. About 7 miles south of Santa Barbara the dolphin interactions began. Eric says that one pod stretched for over 3 miles, and the Condor Express was surrounded by dolphins most of the early part of the excursion. You can already guess why they were not around so much later in the trip.
Around 1130am we were north of The Lanes and our one and only humpback whale popped up. We’ve seen this individual around before as it has a characteristic bent dorsal fin. There were lots of sea birds, sea lions and dolphins around the zone too. Suddenly, after a good long interaction, the thousands of dolphins in the area all got up and began to “stampede” out of the area. What a spectacle! You can already guess why the wanted to move out at high speed.
Sure enough, the last sighting, and the longest…around 2 hours long…was of 8 Bigg’s killer whales (formerly known as transient killer whales). The crew felt that this pod had no adult males for whatever reason. The Orca were moving southeast and had long, ten minute, down times. They did come over to the boat and make some friendly approaches, as you can see in the iPhone photograph that Captain Eric provided.
What a special time this is in the Santa Barbara Channel. So many Orca pods around and with great ocean conditions too.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.