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9 Humpbacks with plenty of action…dolphins too!

2019 08-13 SB Channel

Sightings today included: 9+ humpback whales and 2000+ long-beaked common dolphins. We saw plenty of sooty shearwaters, a few common murres, an abundance of brown pelicans and gulls. Skies had a thick stratus layer until we reached “the hot spot,” where it was bright warm sun and glassy seas. As is often the case, the total numbers do not give a total picture of this fabulous day.

There were small (25 to 100 individuals) pods of dolphins all over the Santa Barbara Channel, everywhere we roamed. Some were very active. Others had tons of little “football” sized calves. Almost every one of them ran to the Condor Express to ride our waves. They were all around the numerous anchovy bait balls, and with the whales wherever we found them.

Around 1145 our deckhand, “Osprey (sea eagle) eyes” Devin, somehow spotted numerous tall spouts in the fog several miles ahead. How does he do it? On the scene we found at least 5 whales. A pair did a cooperative/simultaneous forward-directed surface lunge on one of the bait patches. Another came VERY close to the boat to greet its fans. One of them also did one of those slow-motion tail throws we saw yesterday. Perhaps it was the same whale, or maybe this rash of creative and unusual behavior we’ve been seeing lately is contagious.

An hour later, we encountered a mother humpback with a not-so-small calf, plus a third, unrelated whale in the area. We followed the cow-calf pair and got some nice photos of them in glassy water with nice reflections. Before long, however, their behavior went up an octave. There were multiple breaches, including a full-body-out aerial by the calf. There was a great close approach for selfies. There were some more of those slow-mo tail throws, and at one point, the calf did a series of 20 or more very high chin-lifts. We watched for nearly an hour until it became time to head for the harbor. But wait. As we cautiously moved away, the whales rolled around, slapped pectoral fins, did a double breach and remained active in the distance until we could not see them anymore.

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

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