2020 02-08 SB Channel
Yet another beautiful day in The Channel with clear skies and calm seas. Sightings for the trip included one humpback whale, five Pacific gray whales, 20 Dall’s porpoise, and 3000+ long-beaked common dolphins.
Our first gray whale was a small northbounder that was found less than a quarter of a mile out from the Santa Barbara Harbor entrance. We followed it up the coast for a short while then headed offshore where, 3 miles later, we found a 5 mile wide area rich with dolphins. Captain Dave and the crew stopped counting/estimating at around 3000 animals. There was plenty of bait in the water and hotspots developed, were attacked by dolphins and birds, then moved to a new location nearby… and the cycle repeated.
The only humpback of the day was encountered just a little south of the dolphins. It was a juvenile, was on the move slowly, and showed its tail flukes frequently. We continued south to beautiful Santa Cruz Island and a visit to the Painted Cave. Just outside The Cave entrance there were three more gray whales. They were all heading south and close to the island. Seeing these beautiful migratory beasts with the majestic sea cliffs of the island in the background is always a Spine tingling experience. A bit further out, as we headed home, another gray whale was spotted…but it was rather shy.
The final and perhaps most unexpected sighting of the day took place just a little bit later and it was our encounter with a nice group of Dall’s porpoise. At first these living high-speed torpedoes zoomed through the water and ignored the Condor Express. But our veteran captain pulled out one of his special manoeuvres and accelerated just a bit. This attracted the porpoise to come over and ride our bow and our wake waves. Great looks were had by all and the trick worked so well that we were able to spend quite a long time with these magnificent little black and white beasts.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Condor Express, and