A second day – epic encounters with a blue whale calf.

2017 08-20 SB Channel – East

Sadly, I was not on board today. But Captain Dave called and gave me the following details about the day.

Bright sun; glassy seas; Santa Barbara cobalt clear water: It would be hard to imagine a more enjoyable backdrop for watching 6 giant blue whales and at least 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins. And that’s not even the main story.

Photo by Dave Beezer

Captain Dave and his crew took the Condor Express into the eastern Santa Barbara Channel. The first wildlife encounter was in The Lanes near the eastern end of beautiful Santa Cruz Island. Here, amid hundreds of friendly dolphins that alternated between feeding and riding our waves, the first 4 giant blue whales were closely watched. These were very large whales. The whales made friendly approaches, fairly close to the boat. They had relatively short, 8-minute, down times.

Photo by Dave Beezer

The second encounter took place about 3 miles to the west. Again, hundreds of dolphins were in the area. A 5th blue whale was not a giant, but was the same small calf we’ve seen a few times including yesterday. This little “giant” has two main characteristics, one physical and one behavioral. Physically, it has a larger-than-normal dorsal fin which is curved over. Crew person and 2nd Captain Tasha nicknamed this calf “wave” because the dorsal looks like a wave breaking over a shallow reef such as Mavericks or Teahupoʻo. Behavior-wise, this is the second day in a row in which the calf “mugged” the Condor Express. It did some rolling around. And, today, was seen to repeatedly “chin-slap,” as if it was taking lessons from a humpback whale. After a while the 6th whale showed up, and it was thought to be the mother. The two dove together and, when they came up again, they were very close…and mugged the boat again together.

This sort of blue whale behavior is not common. We’ve only seen such friendly behavior once or twice in the past.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob “should have been there” Perry Condor Express

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