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A humpback whale runs amok in a kelp paddy.

A giant humpback whale stops to roll around in a paddy of drifting giant kelp in the middle of the Channel.

2 humpback whales 3,000+ common dolphins 50 Risso’s dolphins 2 big sunfish (Mola mola) 50+ California sea lions

Although the NOAA worst-case scenario marine forecast was sketchy, it turned out to be a great day for cetacean watching on the Channel today. Captain Dave ran the Condor Express and steered a course for the middle of the Channel where great humpback behaviors were encountered yesterday. These humpbacks are moving around a lot feeding on spontaneous patches of northern anchovies, so nobody was home in yesterday’s area. We did have three nice pods of common dolphins, and the third herd was at least 2,000 animals strong. The sun was out. The water was fairly clear. And the dolphin sightings were very good. But now we needed some larger, knobby headed beasts.

Before too long, the keen eyes of second captain and deck man, Eric, thought he had a humpback whale spout about two miles west of the boat. Sure enough, when we got to the location it was a single adult humpback whale. Within a few breathing cycles the humpback found the large drifting paddy of giant kelp that I was shooting (because it had a very vocal sea lion relaxing in its midst). The whale proceeded to roll around, flap its flippers, kick up its flukes and scare the daylights out of the little sea lions. Whale watchers call this behavior “kelping.” The show continued for almost a half hour….and it was all right smack dab next to the Condor Express.

After a while the humpback whale had totally destroyed the kelp paddy and lost interest in the vegetation. It got back on its easterly migration path and looked for all the world like a whale on a mission. So Captain Dave then took us all to the western end of beautiful Santa Cruz Island and the world famous Painted Cave. However, en route to the island we encountered two large ocean sunfish (or Mola mola, to use their scientific name). One was an absolute beast and we all got great looks as it stayed about 10 feet off our port beam, on the surface, enjoying the bright sunshine.

It’s going to take me a while to process all the good stuff from today. Look for it at as soon I can get it up there.

Hope to see you on board this week.

Bob Perry Condor Express

PS, don’t forget the annual 4th of July fireworks cruise this Thursday from 7 to 930pm. Light appetizers will be served, and the full bar is there for you to do as you wish. Call the SEA Landing to make your reservations 888-77-WHALE.

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