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3 types of dolphins and 14+ humpback whales.

2010 04-01 SB CHANNEL

Under sunny skies and with glassy, calm seas all day, Captain Colton and his crew guided a trio of whale-watching excursions today: 9a, 12n and 3p. As has been our record the past week or so, the sightings were phenomenal: 14+ humpback whales, 50 long-beaked common dolphins, 100 coastal bottlenose dolphins, and 300 offshore bottlenose dolphins.

As we departed the harbor for our morning trip, we encountered coastal bottlenose dolphins. They were close to the beach, as often happens, but the small clusters of 10 or 20 quickly added up to at least 100 total dolphins as we moved from group to group up to Hope Ranch. This may be a record number of coastal bottlenose for one pod and represents a substantial proportion of the coastal population.

Much of the whale action took place around the NOAA East Channel Buoy today, and the morning whales began there with good looks at a small individual that would not let the Condor Express alone. We were mugged for a long time, including some cameo spy hops right next to the boat. Later me moved south and found a group of three more whales with more spouts in the area.

The noon trip located the first whale at the buoy, and then moved southwest a mile to find a tightly packed trio that was engaged in socializing, rolling around and so forth…all this between feeding dives. Later a solo whale came into the same area. About 4 miles off UCSB on our way home we watched a pair of whales and then a large herd of long-beaked common dolphins that surfed our bow, side and stern. Near the harbor another humpback was briefly sighted.

About 6 miles off the beach, heading to the buoy again, we were located by an enormous pod containing at least 300 offshore bottlenose dolphins. As usual, there was a lot of airborne action and quite a few calves were in the mix. Moving south we watched a humpback, then, a bit further another. The latter was very active, breached and threw its massive tail around. On the way home we encountered our last whale of the trip.

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

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