2021 08-23 SB Channel
Captain Colton and the crew of the Condor Express headed out into the Channel with pure mirror glass surface conditions and a thin, gray stratus layer. Totals for the day reflect a very nice diversity of marine mammals: 2+ humpback whales, 2 Minke whales, 25 offshore bottlenose dolphins, 1500 long-beaked common dolphins and 200 California sea lions.
About 10 miles offshore, our first mammals of the day were offshore bottlenose dolphins. It was a small nursery pod that was boat-friendly and when Colton increased the ship speed, the dolphins surfed our wake and got into some high-flying aerial action.
Further out, on the edge of the very busy shipping lanes, our first common dolphins located the boat. They rode our bow AND the bow of the giant container cargo ships running in The Lanes at 20 knots. This was amazing to see. Nearby, after the first batch of big ships passed by, we saw 3 humpback whales. As we got set up and in position, we were able to get great looks at 2 of them and the third was not seen again. The two we watched included one very large and wide adult, and a more normal “medium” sized whale. They surface quite close to the Condor on a few occasions and had very short, 2 minute, down times. This area was also flush with California sea lions.
On the way home we watched more common dolphins and, just a few miles out from the harbor, we had a nice encounter with a pair of friendly Minke whales. Perhaps this is the same pair that has exhibited friendly behavior a lot this summer. We must learn some anatomical feature by which we can begin to log these elusive mysticetes.