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15 Humpbacks, 3 Minke Whales and 2000 Dolphins

2015 07-21 SB Channel

This should be about the last day for us to feel the weather effects stemming from Hurricane Dolores which has long ago turned into a tropical depression and has moved out to sea away from our area. But it was another “muggy” day with partly cloudy sub-tropical skies and a few regions of fog and drizzle mixed in particularly before noon. The ocean conditions have never been better. It was another day of mill pond glass and no swell at all in the Santa Barbara Channel. There was good lateral visibility when we were not in the odd, small fog bank and spotting spouts was never a problem.

We left Santa Barbara Harbor at the regular time (10 am) and moved quickly to the southeast. At 1050 am we entered a large area of productivity filled with spots of long beaked common dolphins (at least 1,000), sooty shearwaters, elegant terns, but where have all the brown pelicans gone lately…are they all nesting now?   We closely watched 8 humpback whales in this area in the 1hour we spent there. Three Minke whales, one small and two large, were also on patrol and one came up directly under the Condor Express for a great view of a semi-shy species. At 1200 pm we moved onward to the so-called blue whale hot spots to scan the region as we had not been down to the east for a while.

1225 pm found us about 1 mile north of the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island and well south of the busy shipping lanes. Another hot spot was found here but alas, no blue whales.   6 more humpback whales were on the prowl here along with another 500 #dolphins. Three large container ships passed through the northbound lanes while we were up to the east exploring.

We left the #whale and dolphins for a quick but pleasant tour of the northeastern sea cliffs and coves of Santa Cruz Island including a nice look inside Potato Harbor. It was getting late and we started on a northwest track back to the Harbor.   Not too far off the island we encountered our last humpback of the trip, another 500 long-beaked common dolphins, and a mylar balloon (which deckhand Augie retrieved). The trip back was equally flat and calm.

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

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