2021 06-24 SB Channel
The day started out with gray skies, but seas were flat and calm. The seas remained calm all day and the wind picked up very slightly around 1130 am. Skies cleared about the same time and it was sunny or mostly sunny for the remainder of the excursion. The sightings today were phenomenal and are so much more than just these raw numbers: 8 humpback whales, 2500 long-beaked common dolphins, 1000 short-beaked common dolphins and 150 California sea lions.
The common dolphins were first observed feeding on isolated bait balls just 30 minutes outbound from the SEA Landing dock. Pods were running between 15 and 25 individuals…at least at the start. Dave was taking the Condor Express to the southwest.
Just 20 minutes after our first common dolphins, the first mother humpback with her calf popped up and we followed along safely. There were also more dolphins and a dozen or so sea lions around the whale pair. The mother humpback had a characteristic large (Orca) bite out of its left tail fluke tip. The calf, on the other hand, was first spotted by the Condor Express just a few weeks ago, and both its body and tail show Orca rake markings. In addition, the calf looks like it survived a rather brutal attack as its tail is distinctly deformed in addition to the rakes. Our deckhand and galley manager, Kelly, has proposed naming the calf “Toa,” (Samoan warrior) for its tough survivalist and exuberant attitude, which I shall now describe. During a 30 minute observation session, the calf breached at least 5 times. It was also very vocal and let out a bark-like sound. It also made a super close approach to the boat and swam directly under us amidships. All this with its huge mother nearby. As our session ended, a mega pod of at least 1000 dolphins passed through the zone. Dave moved the boat as we passed by a close by tail fluke of another humpback.
Fifteen minutes and a few miles further southwest, we were 12 miles off UCSB and two separate additional whales were watched. One was being stalked by a mob of sea lions, and the other made a very close and friendly approach to the boat. More dolphins were on the scene.
With little or no lull in the action, another mother humpback with her calf popped up. Not only did the pair make a couple of very close passes by the Condor Express, but this calf, like Toa, breach several times. Another 500 or so dolphins were there to watch.
On the way home, a 1000 strong nursery pod (filled with mother-calf pairs) of short-beaked common dolphins rounded out this amazing, cetacean-full day.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com