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A Channel crossing adventure yields so many cetaceans! Wow!

2021 05-14 SB Channel

Captain Colton and his crew traversed the midriff of the Channel today in search of wildlife. Skies had that gray stratus layer so common in May and June, but seas were very calm and glassy. Sightings were wonderful, including: 11 humpback whales, 2 Minke whales, 100 offshore bottlenose dolphins and approximately 3000 long-beaked common dolphins.

Scattered herds of foraging common dolphins were seen all across the Channel, mostly in groups of 20 or less. However, 2 large megapods were encountered and will be mentioned chronologically below. Likewise a large pod of the highly-animated offshore variety of bottlenose dolphin will also be mentioned.

Four miles outbound from Santa Barbara harbor and with a small pod of common dolphins, a couple of Minke whales were spotted. They appeared to be quite occupied foraging subsurface and our surface views were quick.

Continuing south towards Santa Cruz Island we began seeing humpback whales in the northbound shipping lane…some 3 or 4 mile south of the NOAA East Channel data buoy. These were initially located by our illustrious deckhand, Devin. The trio was small made up of adult whales with lots of seabird action. Soon a megapod of at least 1000 common dolphins passed by and interacted with the Condor Express.

A few miles further south we watched a humpback mother with her calf. The mom breached high out of the water for all her fans on the boat. Not far from this pair we watched a small humpback juvenile, then another.

At Santa Cruz Island, conditions were ideal for Captain Colton to gently place the Condor Express within the shade of the outermost chamber of the world-famous Painted Cave. A few pigeon guillemots came and went from the Cave.

On our way home, and soon after leaving the guillemots, 100 very animated and high-flying bottlenose dolphins located the boat. Most of the action took place as the dolphins played in our stern wake waves. Just after the amazing leaping dolphin encounter another pair of humpbacks was spotted as we slowly drove by them.

The final cetacean encounter of this magical day was with a second megapod of common dolphins, perhaps 1500 of them, about 7 miles from home.

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

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