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1 of 3 humpback whales puts on a behavior clinic. Also: 1000 dolphins.

2019 10-11 SB Channel

Conditions were right for a trans-Channel voyage and a visit to the northwestern region of beautiful Santa Cruz Island (“Island of the Holy Cross”). All 4 northern islands were clearly visible under dramatic blue skies. Sea had that strange little bumpiness that it gets when the west wind chop meets a Santa Ana-type east wind. But great sightings continued in the Channel today with 3 humpback whales and 1000 long-beaked common dolphins closely watched.

Dolphins were everywhere, and have been that way since back in the early days of summer. Lucky us! Not only are they fun to watch as they surf our bow, stern and side waves, but they act as oceanic bloodhounds by finding concentrations of bait and leading the charge of various species of predatory birds and, of course, the whales.

Speaking of whales, our first sighting was of a small adult whale found about 10 miles south of UCSB. It was spotted two miles away breaching continuously. Breaching continued even when we finally (and slowly) got on station. Captain Dave estimates at least 20 breaches and one was very close to the Condor Express (see similar behavior in today’s photo). After breaching, the little beast started up an episode of chin-slapping. Juvenile humpbacks must breach and do surface activities to allow their muscle chemistry to develop properly and grow.

Later we found two additional whales that were good to watch and showed nice tail flukes. The trip back to the harbor was festooned with more dolphins.

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

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