April was not fooling around with us today. Each and every one of our three 2½ coastal trips were spectacular, but the first two were the best. Captain Eric was at the helm and deckhand Tasha was on the binoculars. ’nuff said.
The 9am trip found a moderate short interval bump coming down the Santa Barbara Channel from gale force winds far to the west. A light breeze was blowing but the sun was out and a sweatshirt was all you really needed. Tasha located our first northbound gray whale off Hendry’s, and it was travelling very close to shore and had long down times. Our attention was soon drawn to a wide-spread pod of at least 100 Pacific white-sided #dolphins. They appeared to be feeding on little balls of anchovies that we could see here and there. All the white-sided sightings this week (and today) have found them mixed with very active California sea lions (acting like dolphins). We found another single gray whale off Hope Ranch and had good looks. As we made our way slowly back towards Santa Barbara Harbor we had a nice interplay with 12 coastal bottlenose dolphins, and soon thereafter, about 100 long-beaked common dolphins. That made a total of 4 different species of cetaceans on the morning trip.
At noon we located 300 or so long-beaked common dolphins about 2 miles straight out of the Harbor, and exactly at the same time and place, a single gray whale. Then it happened. The dolphins seemed to elicit rolling, and upside-down swimming by the gray whale, and it even spy hopped a few times while still on its back. There were lots of mother-cow pairs in this common dolphin pod. A short while later we had another 150 individual pod of common dolphins. We headed down-swell to the East and offshore from Summerland we found a pair of gray whales, one of which was breaching (at least 8 or 10 times) and spyhopping very close to the Condor Express. We followed this pair and had nice looks even after the acrobatics calmed down. The trip ended with about 30 or so Pacific-white sided dolphins mixed with California sea lions which we located and watched off East Beach.
The 3pm adventure took us east to avoid the wind and swell that had kicked up in the later afternoon. We eventually located and watched a nice gray whale, but it was a challenge with the oncoming seas that gave us a little rock and roll music. The whale ran into the kelp bed near the Coral Casino and then out again. It was a nice whale on a moderately uncomfortable ocean.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express