11+ humpbacks, 5000 dolphins and lots of great cetacean behaviors!

2022 08-20 SB Channel

WE GOT MUGGED AGAIN

A high stratus layer quickly dissipated and trip featured glassy seas, practically no swell and sunny skies. It was short sleeves on deck. Sightings were phenomenal: 5500 long-beaked common dolphins and 11+ humpback whales.

I’ve been asked by a loyal reader to explain the commonly used whale-watching terms “Mug, mugged, mugging.” This term means that our interaction with a whale or whales went beyond their voluntary quick pass, called a “close approach,” to involve actually remaining (or very slowly moving) while extremely close to the boat. Sometimes this is measured in a very few yards, other time feet, or even inches. I’ll talk about today’s muggings later in the report.

We departed Santa Barbara Landing at 1005am. At 1020, we were observing our first (small) pod of common dolphins. Common dolphins, mostly scattered groups and a few tight pods, were with us everywhere we went and during all our whale interactions. Some were very close to the whales and man have provoked whale response behaviors such as rolling and pectoral fin slapping. Who can prove it?

At 1100am we found 2 single whales in travel mode with a group of dolphins. We had good looks due to Captain Dave’s natural ability to think like a whale and, of course, his patient ship-handling skills. An hour later we spent quality time with a mother and what we think was her large calf. The calf vocalized on every surfacing, had a uniquely speckled and patched tail pattern, and engaged in synchronized terminal dives/fluking-up with “Mom.”

A bit after 100pm we hit the jackpot and got into a hot spot with thousands of dolphins, sooty shearwaters, terns, and a few phalaropes around the margins. We closely watched 3 for a while, then 3 more. There were several additional spouts around us that we did not pursue. The 2nd trio got friendly and showed off some nice behaviors around the boat. There were numerous close approaches and swim-by’s, and cool social behaviors between them. A couple of the whales bellowed out trumpets on every surfacing. The whales played “ring around the Condor” with a bit of pec-slapping, and slow-motion dives with the tail and stock seemingly suspended in the air. I’m certain more cool stuff will be revealed when the images are processed.

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

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