2020 08-28 East Santa Cruz Island
Skies were overcast with fogust stratus until we reached the land of the giants. Thereafter it was sunny and breezy and perfect for blue whales. The waters north of the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island was our focus again today, and the following were recorded: 10+ giant blue whales and 300 short-beaked common dolphins.
Our only dolphin encounter was a good one. We were only 30 min south of the harbor in some coastal chop when a spread-out pod of at least 300 located the Condor Express. The pod was divided into small feeding groups of 3 – 5 dolphins. At times the feeding behaviors were co-mingled and indistinguishable with social antics…always fun to watch. The little cetaceans spent a lot of time riding the northwest swells that were rolling down the Channel.
Captain Colton showed leadership and spotted the first tall spouts. We were in the same area we’ve been working the past few days. It was a magnificent sight. The brisk wind, the sunny sky, the cobalt clear blue water…all teamed up to highlight the fact that there were spouts all around and everywhere. We closely watched 10 different giant blue whales. Some came by the boat more than once. Additional spouts were seen to the east and west.
At least 4 large commercial vessels transited the northbound shipping lane while we were on station. We had good looks at the crude oil tanker, SONANGOL CAZENGA, a 274.08 x 48.04 m ship headed for Martinez, California.
One very large (female?) blue had a deep notch or groovy in her back behind the dorsal fin. It appeared to be well-healed with lots of scar tissue. In close-up looks at the old wound, a group of isopods might be present in the cleft indicative of some unhealed tissue. We had 4 or 5 encounters with this individual.
Also present on the scene and a whale that made several passes by the Condor today was “Uno,” another big whale but identified by its mostly missing right tail fluke. A third and much smaller individual was seen 2 or 3 times and was much darker than the rest of the blue whales. It had no other markings to suggest it was a hybrid however.
See you on board tomorrow!
Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com