16 Gray whales and more

2016 03-10 SB Channel

Two trips left Santa Barbara Harbor today under mostly sunny skies and running with nice sea conditions that improved as the day went along. Totals for the whole day include 16 gray whales, 75 long-beaked common dolphins and 5 Pacific white-sided dolphins. Here is the breakdown:

9 am The boat was filled with elementary school kids and their parents. The screams rang out on every dolphin and spout and the energy level was high. Up off Hope Ranch we encountered two gray whales that were migrating northbound, as were all the whales today. These two were a bit “shy” and had down times that were a bit on the long side compared to your average gray whale, but nevertheless, Captain Dave kept pace and everyone had great looks. While following the pair of gray whales, we came up on a small feeding hot spot that looked like it was fueled by scattered sardines. Pelicans were crashing and several dozen Brandt’s cormorants were diving on the fish. Several California sea lions were there as were about 50 long-beaked common dolphins. Moving on, an hour or so later, we encountered another feeding pod of dolphins with about 25 additional individuals. Finally, just outside the harbor on the way home we had 5 Pacific white-sided dolphins cross our path.

12 noon The noon trip was all about gray whales. Just outside the outer harbor buoy-slash-sea lion habitat we found two single whales…a bit shy. Next we located a third single shy gray whale. Moving offshore, we came upon a nice trio and they had wonderful surface intervals and short down times. Not long thereafter there was another single of which we had a quick look as we were heading for a more populated region to the southeast. This region included a quartet, a pair and a single gray whale all traveling within a few dozen yards of each other. The last marine mammal sighting of the day was yet another single gray whale passing by our bow near the harbor entrance. What a day !

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

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