A dual breaching humpback mom-calf duo steals the afternoon
Image: a juvenile humpback whale breaching.
2023 05-06 SB Coast
Skies were sunny and bright over the Channel with dark clouds along the ridge line of the local Santa Ynez mountains. As far as wind is concerned, it was a “tale of two cities,” with calmer seas in the northern half of the Channel, and much more wind, with lots of whitecaps in the afternoon to the south. Sightings were phenomenal: 18 humpback whales and 50 long-beaked common dolphins.
The morning run left the harbor just after 9a, and soon, around 950a, our galley person, Samantha, spotted the first whale several miles away. As we moved closer, we never sighted it again. At 10a we found a hot spot 14mi south of the harbor and west of the NOAA East Channel Buoy. The first whale did lots of tail-throws. The second made a friendly approach. Two nearby whales both fluked-up nicely. At 1045 we had moved east and watched a whale very close to the buoy. Meanwhile, everywhere you looked, all around us there were more whales. The distant whales were noted because they breached…once…then had long dives.
On the afternoon excursion our first sighting was near 1p, a single and a pair. They dove and disappeared. We continued searching amidst heavy whitecaps and some spray. On our way north, in the general direction of the harbor, around 215p, small pod of dolphins found us and surfed our wake as well as the waves kicked up naturally by the wind. Closer to the harbor, perhaps 6 miles offshore, deckhand Anna spotted a small breaching whale at least a mile away. Then another breached. As we moved closer, we located and watched a very active mother humpback with her stupendously active calf. The calf breached at least 30 times in the 20 minutes we watched, while the mom got airborne at least 10 times. There were at least 3 instances of double-breaching. This fantastic episode was greatly enhanced by the choppy seas and magnificent winds!
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com