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5 Marine Mammal Species

2017 07-25 SB Channel-East

Captain Dave and his crew ran far to the eastern end of the Santa Barbara Channel and found 5 marine mammal species along the way.  Totals for the day include: 1 ocean sunfish (Mola mola), 100 California sea lions, 100 short-beaked common dolphins, 100 long-beaked common dolphins, 5 Minke whales and 3 humpback whales.  Large flocks of sooty shearwaters are still sitting on the surface all across the Channel.

Our first sighting was very interesting for humans over a certain age.  It was a small pod of long-beaks that were busy mating.  It appeared to us that there was a single female being chased by several males, one after the other.  Perhaps she was ovulating and sending out signals?  This requires more investigation.

A single Minke whale sighting southeast of Platform Habitat took the lead for many such sightings today. 12 minutes later there was another single, 10 minutes after that we watched a pair, and then 17 minutes and a few miles to the southeast, a large single Minke was observed.  Several of these whales surface near the boat and much better than average looks were had.

Soon after all those Minke whale sightings, a group of around 20 long-beaks came near the Condor Express.  Then they disappeared for a substantial down time, only to pop back up together on the surface.  While our typical common dolphin sighting consists of lots of dolphins on the surface pretty much the whole time, this group swam then dove together.

A large Mola mola (ocean sunfish) was watched as it hovered a few feet beneath the surface and very close to a paddy of detached and drifting giant kelp.  About this time we began to see spouts in the distance.  We were a few miles north of Arch Rock, Anacapa Island.  We closely watched 3 humpback whales and there was at least one more in the area that we did not have time to watch.  One small whale had bright white pectoral flippers…gorgeous!  The humpbacks were on patrol near a large hot spot demarcated by about 100 California sea lions, lots of dolphins, and hundreds of sea birds sitting on the surface.  Apparently most of the bait (northern anchovies) was down below the surface, and we assumed the dolphins, sea lions and whales were feasting at depth.

A high-speed dolphin run (“stampede”) took place and eventually passed close enough to the Condor for us to tell these were short-beaked common dolphins.  Great to see these highly animated cousins of the long-beaks.

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

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