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A gorgeous day off the Gaviota coast.

2017 07-27 SB Channel-West

It was one of those absolutely gorgeous, sunny summer days with blue skies and blue water.  Captain Dave and his crew took the Condor Express into the western Santa Barbara Channel with stunning ocean-land views of the pristine Gaviota coast.  Wow, what a stunner!

The day started with a handful of long-baked common dolphins a few miles southwest of Santa Barbara harbor.  This was a small but friendly group and got the cetacean count going nicely.  Not far from this first dolphin encounter an absolutely HUGE ocean sunfish ( Mola mola) was seen on the surface, but it sounded as soon as we turned around to view it.  Another hundred or so dolphins were watched in the same area.

About 5 or 6 miles off More Mesa we located a small but active hot spot with at least 50 California sea lions, 150 additional dolphins, and a single humpback whale.  Seabirds on the spot included hundreds of sooty shearwaters, brown pelicans, gulls, and lots of elegant terns.  The whale passed through the hot spot and began to slowly meander around at random.  We continued our trek to the west.

The rest of the excursion was characterized by spot after spot of dolphins.  Some pods were small, a few dozen or less.  Other pods were quite large with several hundred individuals. Along the way we also encountered numerous flocks of elegant terns which were seen in flight as well as crash-diving for food.  Every large drifting kelp paddy was also a tern rest stop.

Just after 12 noon we came into a widely dispersed hot zone.  We were just a few miles east of Platform Hondo at the time.  This area supported at least 1,000 additional dolphins, 100 California sea lions, 4 large humpback whales, and another huge ocean sunfish.  The whales, like the first one seen this morning, were trending to the east, but were not in a hurry.  They also did not dive long, nor did they fluke-up very high or very often.  This resulted in lots of great surface time for whale fans on the Condor.

Totals for the day included: 2 ocean sunfish, 5 humpback whales, 150 California sea lions, and 1,500 long-beaked common dolphins.

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

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