2015 07-12 SB Channel
It was something like a record-breaking humpback whale and dolphin day. Here’s the story.
At 10:30am we were less than 4 miles southwest of Santa Barbara Harbor and found a nice pod of long-beaked common dolphins. Of course, we did not realize at the time that we would be seeing dolphins everywhere we went in the Santa Barbara Channel, so these first ones were special like a first love.
Fifteen minutes later we moved about a mile or two further along our southwesterly track and located a region with a lot of humpback whales mixed in with, you guessed it, loads of common dolphins. Many of the dolphins had tiny little calves with them.
After a hour of enjoying these first humpbacks, and practically seeing tail flukes in every direction, we moved further along the SW track and saw a nice handful of additional whales, along with, tah-dah!, many many hundreds of common dolphins.
Just after noon we found ourselves a bit north of the northbound shipping lane and there was a mother lode of humpback whales here. Once again, tail flukes and spouts all around the boat as far as the eye could see. At one point our old pal Eric Z saw a distant spout. I relayed this information to Captain Eric (Eric N), just as a much closer whale breached a few hundred yards off our starboard side. Nobody had their camera ready for that one! and naturally a slight depression set-in amongst the photographers for missing the shot. But all was sunny and nice about two seconds later when two other whales, even closer, breached one after the other. The second of the pair was a large whitey pects with a white tail and it got airborne while aimed directly at the Condor Express (and the cameras of those who learned their lesson the first time). This dual breach was followed by yet another a few seconds later. That was it. There were no other breaches observed for the rest of the excursion, but who cares? these were stupendous!
Around 1:00pm Captain Eric (Eric N, not Eric Z) had the boat inside the northbound lanes for yet another humpback/dolphin hot spot. Included in the many whales found in these new waters there was a mother humpback and her calf with a third whale tagging along as an escort. Long-beaked common dolphins were abundant here, as everywhere.
When we finally turned around and started back to Santa Barbara Harbor, I had carefully tallied the total whale count in my notebook. It came close to a record-breaker with 45 humpback whales, not counting the numerous additional spouts we saw everywhere in the distance. At least 4,500 long-beaked common dolphins were also closely observed.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
PS. I’ll try my hardest to get the rest of these photographs processed by Wednesday for the website.