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A record-breaking day in the far western Channel…El Capitan to Gaviota!

2022 08-07 SB Channel – West

Captain “Osprey eyes” Devin and the crew of the Condor Express returned to the fertile waters of the far western Channel again today and closely watched: 10+ humpback whales, 4000 long-beaked common dolphins and 1500 California sea lions. This was a record-breaking number of sea lions sighted for the year (so far). Seas were calm. Winds were calm at first but picked up a bit later. The water wasn’t especially clear, but enough to follow humpback whales that had long white pectora flippers.

Out of the breakwater, Devin ran 4 miles out then headed southwest. From the harbor to an area south of Holly, we watched 7 or 8 medium-sized dolphin pods, many of which were feeding. There was a total lull in dolphins until we were 5 ½ miles south of El Capitan, then the pods became “mega.” Groups in the thousands were everywhere, as were the very active and huge mobs of California sea lions also feeding in the area. We have not seen mobs of sea lions this large for many years. (See my photograph attached to this report). A sub-adult humpback whale with white pectoral fins was watched here, too. It was feeding about 10-feet below the surface and, thanks to the sun reflecting off its white pecs, it could be followed and watched as it chased sub-surface bait balls. At one point it broke the surface right next to the Condor Express with a massive horizontal surface lunge feeding event. Wow.

All this food, all these different animals (including sea birds) feeding, attracted the attention of at least 9 more humpback whales. The first group of 5 included a mother humpback with her calf. Mom did a chin lift and quite a bit of trumpet vocalization. We move around to various others in the group and noticed even more spouts in the near distance.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com

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