2016 03-17 SB Channel
Stunning summer conditions with cetaceans everywhere. Totals for the whole day are: gray whales=4; humpback whales = 8; Inshore bottlenose dolphins = 3; long-beaked common dolphins = 47; Pacific white-sided dolphins = 150. California sea lions were abundant on the feeding hot spots and the harbor entrance buoys. Harbor seals were resting on the bait barge inside the harbor. Here are the details:
9am As we motored slowly in the boat channel inside Santa Barbara harbor, I looked over the top of the rocks and saw inshore bottlenose dolphins. As the Condor Express came into their vicinity to take a peek, there were three of these large dolphins. We followed them into the East Beach anchorage before turning around completely and returning to the harbor entrance where a nice sized group of 25 Pacific white-sided dolphins (aka, Lags) were to be found. Ten minutes later we located a second, similarly sized group of 20 or so Lags, then ten minutes after that it was another group of 25 near the Yacht Club. The past two days have blessed us with this wonderful Lags that do not often come to the beach and play.
At 10am we were not far offshore of Hendry’s where 4 gray whales were found heading north. There was a moderate amount of rolling around and the group (1 out front, 3 together in the back) slowed down and picked up speed a couple of times. During the whale watching, yet another group of 25 Lags passed us by as they were moving east. We left the gray whales after a good long time with plenty of wonderful looks to head a bit offshore and east where we thought we saw some birds crashing. On the way we rode along with a mother common dolphin and her little calf. A ways outside of Shoreline Park there were 25 common dolphins chasing a small bait ball with at least 1 humpback dining on the same buffet table.
12noon The afternoon adventure got started with 20 Lags followed by 1 humpback whale. The humpback wasn’t particularly showy so we moved offshore where we caught a glimpse of some spouts and some tail-throwing. Sure enough, we found a medium large northern anchovy bait ball being worked, at one time or another, by 5 independent humpback whales. Several times the bait ball got pushed up against the hulls of the Condor Express where they tried to escape, but the dolphins and sea lions found their banquet anyway. It was a spectacular “Marlin Perkins, Wild Kingdom” kind of event. Four different cetacean species were seen today.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express
PS A reliable source spotted a giant blue whale near the shipping lanes today, which was beyond our reach due to time constraints, but this is a nice early blue for sure!