One of 4 amazing humpbacks shows off its tail flukes for appreciative fans.
4 Humpback Whales Surface Feed & More
The glassy and windless conditions we had as we departed Santa Barbara Harbor did not last long. By 11 am a moderate breeze and light chop prevailed. Luckily we found our first of many long-beaked common dolphins right away. Later in the day one of the pods was a nursery pod and some of the youngsters were tan/brown color with no stripes yet, and fetal folds were visible. Our sharp-eyed Captain Eric located our first of 5 humpback whale spouts as he steered the Condor Express into the northeastern Santa Barbara Channel and a region affectionately called “The Flats.” Soon his one spout became an adult and small juvenile, and then another adult with a juvenile. A 5th whale breached twice in the distance but we could not leave the #whale show with our 4 amazing beasts and were content in knowing there were a lot of humpback whales around the zone.
The big show began when one adult-juvenile humpback pair kicked into high speed and headed directly at the second adult-juvenile humpback pair who were aimed directly at them. It was like a 1950’s teen movie with whales instead o f hot rods “playing chicken.” Everyone held their breath and trained their eyeballs at the potential impact point. Would the breach? throw their tails? slap their pectorals? or just ignore each other? Answer: As hundreds of shearwaters, cormorants, dolphins and sea lions magically showed up, the whales lunge fed on the surface. Soon their ballooned-out bellies were floating in plain view. The whales repeated their lunges several times. At one point Captain Eric hit the throttle lever and put the Condor Express in reverse. Whaaa? I was thinking. Instantly two fully distended adult humpbacks were on the surface directly in front of our bow with an up close look at the ventral groove blubber. I’ve said it before, but I’ll stand by it: it was a Nat Geo kind of day.
Minke whales were in the area but we did not get great looks. And just outside the Harbor we had about a dozen large inshore bottlenose common dolphins. I’ll post the photos sometime tomorrow.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob PerryCondor Express
on the web: www.CondorExpress.com/blog