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17 Humpbacks & Lunge-Feeding near Santa Rosa Island

2015 07-09 SB Channel

Seventeen humpback whales and at least 2,000 long-beaked common dolphins were closely watched on our excursion. There were two distinct zones of activity in the Santa Barbara Channel today, the first was about 7 miles south of Santa Barbara Harbor and stretched far and wide. At least a dozen #whales were spread across this zone and lots of #dolphin activity was observed. Two of the humpback whales consisted of a mother whale with her calf…always a special sight to see.

After a nice long session in the first zone, we left and toured the west end of Santa Cruz Island including a penetration of the world-famous Painted Cave. By this time skies were blue and the sun was bright. Seas were calm and a very light breeze wafted across the Channel. We left the Cave and ran to the west along the oft-mentioned “Ledge” where the deepest regions of the Santa Barbara Basin rise abruptly to the northern shelf bordering the Channel Islands. It has traditionally been a productive region in the Summer.

Around 1250pm we were a few miles north of Santa Rosa Island and found a very vigorous feeding frenzy where seabirds, mostly gulls, were circling and diving on a very concentrated ball of northern anchovies. It was one of the most dramatic small hot spots I can remember. A few minutes later Captain Dave had moved us further west and several spouts were seen as we entered this second distinct zone of activity.

This second zone was fueled by a small but concentrated school of anchovies and dolphins, sea lions, gulls and at least 5 humpback whales were all there to enjoy this afternoon dining experience. We were just north of Carrington Point and soon all five whales took turns passing through the bait ball. Among the 5 humpbacks we saw yet another mother whale and her calf. Several very dramatic vertical and horizontal surface lunge feeding episodes were observed. Wow.

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

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