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20 humpbacks and lots of sea lions

2022 11-05 SB Channel

The sea surface was a bit bumpy from winds in the far west overnight. Luckily, winds were calm here in the mid-Channel. Skies were mostly sunny and bright…most of the Channel Islands could be seen. Sightings were phenomenal: 16+ humpback whales, 75 long-beaked common dolphins and 400+ California sea lions.

The largest group of dolphins was located just 2 miles south of the harbor and consisted of 40 animals. Later in the trip, smaller groups (some only 2 or 3 individuals) were found in the hot spots. An overwhelming abundance of sea lions was observed at every hot spot, as if Mother Nature replaced dolphins with sea lions today.

Captain Dave and the crew moved the Condor Express to the south side of The Lanes. Soon thereafter the largest hot spot of the day produced at least 20 whales, of which we closely watched 16. Hundreds of sea lions and thousands of sea birds were also feeding here. Among the first couple of whales we stopped on was our friend “Scarlet,” who soon became one of the huge assemblage of humpbacks busy feeding on surface anchovy bait balls. There were many instances of surface lunge feeding (see photo above). Also, a bit of rolling around, chasing and vocalization was noted. The chasing seemed confined to large whales that had abundant scaring across their dorsal surface, and we guessed they were adult males. Towards the end of this sighting a group of 5 whales made close approaches alongside and under the boat.

One deflated, floating Mylar balloon was retrieved from the ocean surface.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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