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3 gray whales face a decision plus loads of common dolphins.

2020 02-12 SB Channel

Other than a small nuisance bump from the Santa Ana winds blowing south of us, it was a perfect day for sight-seeing and cetaceans in the Santa Barbara Channel. Today we closely watched 3 Pacific gray whales and 2500+ long-beaked common dolphins.

There were two “hot” areas for dolphin activity. The first was located just 5 miles out from Santa Barbara Harbor where a mega pod was spread over a few miles of water. Numerous feeding frenzy zones, with brown pelicans and other seabirds diving on bait and dolphins actively feeding, were encountered as we ran along the dolphin line all the way west to UCSB. At Campus Point Captain Dave turned south and we ran across the Channel to beautiful Santa Cruz Island. Near the west end and Fraser Point, there were additional scattered, smaller pods of dolphins.

Fraser Point is often the spot where southbound migrating gray whales “make a decision.” Some continue east (east is the way whales in the Channel end up southbound) along the northern face of the island, while others pass through Santa Cruz Channel and move east (then south) around the back side of the island.

Today we watched a group of 3 whales engaged in social behavior and also seemingly making that decision. The trio led us into Santa Cruz Channel several times, only to reverse course and head along the northern face. We watched in anticipation to see their ultimate path, but time ran out and we had to wish them a fond adiós.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com

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