Captain Dave ran a great trip to the western end of Santa Cruz Island and stopped at all the Island hot spots, cetaceans and marine mammals along the route. It was a sunny day and the winds did not kick up until later in the trip as we were south of The Lanes. Total sightings included 2 humpback whales (with more in the distance), 1,500 long-beaked common dolphins in one mega-pod and at least 1,000 California sea lions in one mega-mob.
On the way to the Island the first mammal popped up near the Condor Express in The Lanes. It was the same humpback whales that we’ve been seeing for about two weeks and is nicknamed “TN2” or just “T2” (which sounds more French). It was located by its massive breaches at a distance of several miles from the boat. As we arrived near the animal it was a bit shy at first with long down times. Soon, however, Captain Dave announced to everyone, “Now watch that floating giant kelp paddy over there. Sometimes humpback whales like to play with them.” No sooner said, than done. The beast played in the veggies for at least 30-minutes. It spy-hopped, did some head stands, rolled around, slapped the first pectoral fine and then the other. Dave has these whales trained well.
Coming in from Santa Cruz Channel and the Potato Patch, a second humpback whale was spotted, but only came to the surface twice after long down times. Other spouts were seen in the vicinity. We toured the west end of the Island and went inside the mouth of the Painted Cave.
Outside the Cave we encountered a mile-long mega pod of dolphins and had wonderful looks. In the same general area a mega-mob of at least 1,000 California sea lions was encountered. We’ve had the good fortune to see these massive aggregations for almost a month now. Nobody seems to know why they congregate and are in the same general region every day.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express