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10 whales, one goes berserk with kelping episode

2018 11-08 SB Channel

Once again crystal clear, cobalt blue, water and calm seas prevailed in the central Santa Barbara Channel. Closely watched species and numbers included 10 humpback whales, 2000 long-beaked common dolphins, and a whale that went berserk with a long episode of kelping.

Not long after departing the harbor and stopping for mandatory sea lion viewing on the buoy, we were greeted by a nice sized pod of dolphins about 500 strong that included many calves. This sighting was impressive and it was enhanced by the water clarity mentioned above.

Just a little further offshore we encountered a trio of whales that was soon joined by a fourth whale. The “leader of the pack” turned out to be our old friend Scarlet who swam around the whole time in very close proximity to a cohort. We’ve seen the two of them together for a couple of weeks now. We wonder if the cohort is just a friend or her perhaps one of Scarlet’s nearly full-grown calves.

About an hour later 3 more whales were observed in a tight group that surfaced regularly and showed us their tail flukes every time. They were mixed in with another 500 or 600 dolphins. These whales were large and had very short dive times and wonderful surface times.

All of this action was taking place between 6 and 8 miles offshore. Not long after we left the trio, we encountered a single whale with some dolphins, and then 2 more solo whales. The last solo whale to be watched turned out to be a real showstopper. It rolled around in some drifting giant kelp debris, slapped its pectoral fins in the seaweed, raised and lowered its tail in the vegetation repeatedly, in seemingly slow-motion, allthis right next to the boat. The kelping we watched included numerous instances of spy-hopping often with kelp draped across the head of the beast. Wow!

You never know what mother nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and

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