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2 Late Gray Whales, 2 Humpbacks, and Thousands of Dolphins

2015 06-08 SB Channel

Captain Dave and the crew of the Condor Express took us across the Santa Barbara Channel to the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island, and back again. It was overcast, foggy in spots, but very calm and mostly glassy. A very few sunny spots, or what they call in Alaska “sucker holes” were encountered, although it was nice at the island and along the beach.

Our first sighting included about 100 long-beaked common dolphins which were seen about 3 miles south of Santa Barbara Harbor. We watched for a while and then kept on our southeasterly course.

The second sighting was more robust and included another 100 #dolphins along with many hundred sooty shearwaters.   Two long-winded humpback whales came up to breathe once in a while, but the looks were very good. We were about 1 mile south of Hillhouse at the time.

Next up was a massive megapod of long-beaked common dolphins, easily 1,000 animals, about 2 miles east of Habitat. The great abundance of these little cetaceans was marvelous to watch, and they rode the bow, surfed our wake, and did all their tricks.

We continued our southeasterly path and Dave provided good narration as we toured the seacliffs and coves along the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island from Scorpion Anchorage to Pedro Point.   Back on track, we headed north to look for more cetaceans.   About 30 minutes off the island and as we started up the underwater slope that is attached to the mainland, in 50 fathoms of water, another even more active megapod of at least 1,000 additional #dolphins was encountered. This was an active feeding pod and they were moving at high speeds chasing the anchovy school.   Many seabirds were on this hot spot and that included shearwaters, pelicans and a few gulls.

Our final major sighting of the trip was about 1 mile south of Hillhouse and included 2 adult northbound gray whales, along with 50 or so #dolphins.   The #whales traveled and dove side by side. There was not much difference between them in terms of size, so we ruled out the mother-calf situation which one might expect to see with these late migrators.

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

PS   For loyal readers following the milky blue water story, I sampled with my 20um mesh net and found no coccolithophores.   A local expert told me that the species dominating our local bloom is 5um, and thus my net, albeit about the finest mest you can get, was too large.

PS2 I’ll get today’s photographs online as soon as possible

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