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A pair of northbound gray whales

2017 02-25 SB Coast

Calm seas prevailed and there were fair skies until late in the afternoon.  Conditions for observing wildlife were fantastic.  Even the surface debris that I discussed yesterday is starting to dissipate a bit making the water even clearer and better for viewing animals below the surface.  The total sightings for the day included masses of sea lions and sea birds, a pair of northbound gray whales, and a minimum, low estimate of at least 800 long-beaked common dolphins.

The track for today’s excursion included a trip to the west as far as UCSB and about 4 miles offshore, followed by a U-turn and a return home using a fairly straight path east to Santa Barbara harbor.

All along Hendry’s Beach, Hope Ranch and beyond there were massive hot spots of northern anchovies on the surface.  These were found at a distance by the sea bird masses crashing, diving and roiling the surface of the ocean.  Closer to the action one could easily make out the amorphous and singular entity that the hundreds of thousands of little synchronous fish became.  Sea lions were there, as were lots and lots of dolphins.  All the species were feeding on the little bait fish.  Many speculated that we would see at least one humpback whale with all these fish, but that did not happen today.

Just past Hope Ranch, and a mile south of all the hot spots, a pair of northbound gray whales were located by their large spouts.  These were heading northbound (which, of course is almost due west in the Santa Barbara Channel) at about 3 knots.  They held to a regular breathing cycle with 10 minutes down followed by 3 or 4 breaths.  Tail flukes were common.

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

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