Spectacular calm and warm conditions yields fantastic cetacean sightings.

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A Risso's dolphin in the Santa Barbara Channel.

2021 11-12 SB Channel

From the waters near UCSB to across the Channel to the Painted Cave of Santa Cruz Island, we found a spectacularly calm, sunny day for wildlife viewing. Sightings were enhanced further by the superior water clarity leading to close observations of: 7 humpback whales, 900 long-beaked common dolphins, 100 Risso’s dolphins and 1 Minke whale.

Several small pods were scattered around an area off UCSB until a larger herd of nearly 600 individuals came through. Great looks were had, and even would come later.

About 5 miles west of Platform Holly a trio of humpbacks was watched. They were on a regular subsurface feeding cycle with good looks at tail flukes. There was also some rolling and socializing going on.

At this point, Captain Dave and the crew crossed the Channel heading for The Cave.  Right up close to the Island, near The Cave, we found another humpback trio similarly engaged in subsurface feeding.  It was a mother-calf pair and a third whale, an adult. One had a distinctive tail and was identified using HappyWhale as “Bear,” who, based on the records is at least 43 years old.

Dave introduced everyone to Santa Cruz Island and then put the Condor Express into the first chamber of The Cave. On the way home we had several more interesting encounters including a wonderful session with a large group of Risso’s dolphins. They were quite active and did a lot of jumping and even rode our bow.

Later we briefly watched a 7th humpback and more scattered common dolphin pods.

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

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