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All day trip with killer whales etc etc

2021 08-14 SB Channel – ACS Trip

Today was the annual American Cetacean Society eight hour whale watch trip. We left at 8 AM and returned around 4:45PM. Skies were mostly overcast, varying from a high foggy sky to a partly cloudy sky. For a while, up at San Miguel Island, it was sunny. Ocean conditions were good, glassy calm in the morning turning to a light breeze in the afternoon. Sightings include three Minke whales, 5000 long-beaked common dolphins, 8 humpback whales, 3 killer whales, and 1000 short-beaked common dolphins. Here’s a chronology of the main events:

8:35 AM one Minke whale was quickly joined by two more. The pair was probably a mother with her calf. They did come by the boat and we’re extremely friendly…an unusually good sighting!

The long-beaked common dolphins began showing up in small pods after 9 o’clock. There were pods of various sizes all day.

9:25 AM- We watched 2 humpback whales. It was our old friend Chompers and her calf, who we saw yesterday, too.

11:40 AM- 1000 short-beaked common dolphins. Lots of high-flying and tail-walking!

12:40 AM – we were still in the San Miguel Passage and watched a sub adult male California sea lion feeding on a medium sized ocean sunfish (Mola mola).

1:20 PM – we were several miles south of San Miguel Island and found another pair of humpback whales. Again it was a mother with her calf. We were alerted to their presence when the mother got airborne when we were several miles away. The mother was also highly vocal with lots of trumpet blowing going on.

From 1:40 PM to 2:30 PM we closely watched three killer whales 5 miles southwest of the west end of San Miguel Island. These were spotted several miles away by our phenomenal deckhand, Devin. It was 2 females and one calf. They have been identified by Alisa Schman-Janiger was on board and identified them as the CA 39A pod. CA 39A, herself, had been given the nickname “Hopper” years ago because she spy hopped all the time. We had lots of good looks and they came up and passed under the bow of the boat on three different occasions. Wow!

On the way home, running late, at 3:40 PM we passed a big hotspot in the shipping lanes off Santa Rosa Island. Thousands of sooty shearwaters and other seabirds were there along with a couple of thousand additional long-beaked common dolphins. Also in the mix were 4 more humpback whales one of which breached several times. We were running very late and did not have time to stop but all these things were clearly visible as we drove by.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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