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4 Gray Whales (2+2) 3 Humpback Whales and Both Species of Common Dolphins

A large female humpback whale throws her tail sending seawater high and far today.

4 Gray Whales (2+2) and 3 Humpback Whales and Both Species of Common Dolphins

Captain Dave cleared the Santa Barbara Harbor breakwater at 10:08am and you could see from Boney Ridge near Malibu all the way to San Miguel Island. In a word, it was pristine! What gorgeous conditions to find spouts, both large and small. At 10:58am, on the northern edge of what we call “mid-Channel” we located our first 2 southbound migrating gray whales and had great looks. They meandered here and there but trended east. Anyone who thinks their migration is a straight line hasn’t seen these whales. Dave moved us south on a course for Santa Cruz Island, but at 11:20am we stopped for three very showy humpback #whales. The largest was the female we call Scarlet (due her prominent scar which I’ve described and photographed in previous chapters), and she, along with two more, milled around the southern edge of the “mid-Channel” zone. There were no deep dives or long bottom times today, in fact one of the whales with white pectoral fins tended to take a breath then hang a foot or two beneath the surface until it was time to take another breath. And so on. Given the clarity of the blue water, this made taking great photographs of this animal a cinch. We were running into small pods of long-beaked common dolphins all morning and some of the pods may have possibly annoyed Scarlet. Out of no where she gave us all a mighty monster tail throw that send seawater flying high and far. Onward to Santa Cruz Island. About a mile north of the sea cliffs we found 2 more southbound migrating gray whales and their tall spouts were magnified by the backlight of our bright sun. These spouts were framed by the dark sea cliffs and the whole scene was both fabulous and dynamic.

At Santa Cruz we toured the sea cliffs of the western end of the island. Sea conditions were very flat and calm with only a very slight breeze, so very very close and personal looks inside the world famous Painted Cave were possible. About 5 California sea lion pups had scaled up the cliffs inside the cave and were sleeping (until we arrived).  Not long after leaving the island our final species of cetacean was observed: a large herd of highly animated short-beaked common #dolphins. We watched for quite a while then headed back to Santa Barbara. What a day!

We are running open public whale watch trips like this on Saturday and Sunday, then we are in the boatyard for our annual maintenance and Coast Guard inspections, hoping to be back in full service again on January 23. Hope to see you on board.

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

Look for today’s photographs online on Monday or Tuesday.

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