A Stellar sea lion, 2 Minke whales and loads of dolphins

2019 09-19 SB Channel

It was another beautiful day in the Santa Barbara Channel. Sightings for the day included one Stellar sea lion, 2000 long-beaked common dolphins, t2 Minke whales, and 100 California sea lions.

It was clear and sunny all day. There was quite a bit of a residual bump from the winds that blue during the night. As we headed west the local winds gradually increased. At a certain point, Capt Dave and the crew turned around and went the other way. As we departed the harbor and went over to the outer harbor entrance buoy to look at the sea lions, we immediately noticed there was one huge animal taking up half of the space. It turned out to be a young male Stellar sea lion. Believe me when I tell you that the little California sea lions were very wary and we’re keeping their distance as much as possible. We encountered our first herds of dolphins about a half an hour out. Per usual, we were able to watch them swim alongside and ride our wake wave. There would be many more dolphin concentrations along hotspots as the trip progressed. After reversing course, as mentioned in the first paragraph, we found ourselves about a half a mile north of Platform Habitat. Here there were several large pods of dolphins moving from hotspot to hotspot. These were small hotspots but they contained the usual complement of sea lions dolphins and various predatory sea birds.

Before long some large footprints on the water alerted us to the fact that there might be something bigger lurking in the area. A keen-eyed passenger named Suellen spotted these footprints, and Dave slowed down. Sure enough, it turned out to be two very interesting Minke whales. These whales were working the outer edges of the hotspots and we had some really good looks. At one point one of the Minkes came right across the bow of the Condor Express so you could look almost straight down on its dorsal fin.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com

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