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An amazing (almost) record-breaking day in the Channel

(above: humpback whales rolling around and cavorting)

2022 11-18 SB Channel

Despite the long period swell from the northwest, the gorgeous blue skies and lack of wind made for excellent fall season whale watching. Sightings were nearly record-breaking: 19+ humpback whales, 250 long-beaked common dolphins, 250 California sea lions and 12 coastal bottlenose dolphins.

After a brief encounter with a dozen shy bottlenose dolphins near the Yacht Club, Captain Dave and the crew traversed the Channel and ended up in The Lanes for the first of two very productive areas. There were no other dolphins of any kind sighted today until we were about ½ mile from home in the afternoon.

Our first stop in The Lanes lasted for over an hour as we encountered a pair of amazingly friendly humpback whales that mugged us non-stop. They were both adults and we watched them move around all sides of the Condor Express, roll around (see photo above) and do some selfie-worthy spy hops. As we were being mugged and could not/would not move, another trio of whales passed by and, about ¼ mile nearby, another single whale did some impromptu rolling around.

After the mugging we contemplated a slow move to the west and almost immediately watched a pair of whales breaching in front of the boat.

After the short westerly move, we were in the middle of The Lanes and watched a pair, then an additional single humpback. These individuals were surrounded by a mob of 200+ sea lions and lots of sea birds. All were feeding close to the surface without breaking into the atmosphere.

A move to the north brought us south of Platform Holly. This was the second major hot spot of the day, and at least 9 humpbacks were very actively feeding here with more birds and a few sea lions. The whales engaged in surface lunge-feeding, which is always on our bucket list of humpback behaviors to see.

On the way home, and remarkably close to the harbor (Hendry’s Beach), a nice herd of 250 long-beaked common dolphins were watched to round-out a phenomenal and practically non-stop day of sightings.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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