Among 6 whales: a pectoral-slapping champion and later two frisky whales.

2022 08-18 SB Channel

It was foggy most of the day but cleared for a while during our best encounters with frisky humpbacks. Some of the fog was down to the deck and resulted in near zero visibility, while at times it was just low gray stratus. The morning calm gave way to quite a refreshing breeze on the whale grounds. Closely watched species included: 6 humpback whales and 2650 long-beaked common dolphins.

Scattered groups of dolphins started within the first 30 minutes of the trip and continued unabated all day. At times a larger pod was encountered, but it, too, was dispersed and not compact. Dolphins were around the whales quite a bit.

There were no deflated, floating balloons to retrieve today, however we did stop to pick up a floating hat. It was a juvenile hat, perhaps born earlier this year, and

no doubt was blown into the sea off the head of a Condor Express whale watcher. Deckhand Adam showed great skill with the boat hook as Captain Devin put the boat into position for the save. Duct tape anyone?

We closely watched 6 humpback whales, and out of that 3 were extremely active and great to watch. In the northern Channel morning fog we found two individual whales. One was the same whale we saw yesterday, named Twitch, with a severely deformed tail due to what appears to have been a serious entanglement. A second whale was moving west and not interested in the boat.

Just after noon we found a very active whale that spent 45 minutes slapping its pectoral flippers. It was still slapping when we left the area. It was a creative slapper and its repertoire included such slaps as: windmill rolling slaps, double pectoral sweeps, rolling double slaps, upside down left and right simultaneous slapping, and, a very common one, the “shark attack” slap done with one pec in the air during a short, high-speed run, followed by a slap. Oh, there were plenty of “regular, or normal” pectoral slaps, too. It was a phenomenal slapping episode to watch. The slap monster short intervals between slaps moving into the on-coming seas, and only dove a few times to reveal its tail flukes.

Next up we watched two humpbacks “carrying on,” socializing and physically interacting for a sustained time period. There was some pec slapping, friendly approaches to the Condor, simultaneous, close together rolling and dual pec slapping, and several instanced of one whale gently ramming the other with its knobby head. During one interaction event, one partner stayed on the water with its thorax and abdomen lifted up a bit (head and tail still submerged) while the other partner did a long, slow spy-hop. Whale fans on board the boat were thrilled, applauded loudly and congratulated themselves for being wise enough to be on board today.

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

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