A Quintet of Humpback Whales and More !
The sun was bright and our friend Mark told us he could see humpback whales from his porch near the Mesa in Santa Barbara. We knew this was going to be a good one. Sure enough, less than 4 miles out from Santa Barbara Harbor we located 5 humpback whales which sometimes were watched singly, some as a duo, trio and then a quartet. A fifth whale stayed on the fringe, perhaps singing its own tune. The whales were wonderful in the clear blue water and the whole day was a bit transcendent. In addition to the sparkling clear ocean water, the panoramic views topside were also remarkable. From San Miguel to the west, all the way to Boney Ridge between Camarillo and Malibu, there was a clear view of all the mountains and especially interesting cloud formations. Throughout the humpback area were scattered large pods of common dolphins, perhaps 3,500 or more. Quite a few dolphin calves were seen today. At one point while we were trying to anticipate where a particular humpback would surface, Captain Dave put us next to a very big ocean sunfish or Mola mola. A juvenile western gull sat next to this fish on the water, perhaps hoping to peck off a few skin parasites. Two elusive Minke whales were also on the prowl in this area.
After a while we were indeed off to a visit to the islands. I could not help but feel like a member of an indigenous tribe heading south to Limuw, Wi’ma or Tuqan on a perfect day for paddling. The Painted Cave was absolutely dead calm and flat inside and we remained motionless for quite a while watching the pigeon guillemots fly in and out. As I mentioned on Saturday, there is a rocky sea cliff not far to the west of the Cave where many dozen California sea lions have hauled out, and many have climbed very high up the cliff above the water line. It was another amazing aspect of our adventure today. I’ll put the photographs I took on the web tomorrow some time.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.