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An excellent day in the Santa Barbara Channel

A very friendly humpback whale, Rope’s buddy, came over and showed us a tail flukes waterfall. photo: Bob Perry

An excellent day in the Santa Barbara Channel

The sun came out as we left the dock and the patchy low stratus dissolved.  There was a gentle breeze but it was still quite warm when we stopped on whales and dolphins.  The water continues its trend and remains very clear and very blue.  Our friend Sherry reported seeing humpback whales near the Summerland oil platforms and we were not disappointed upon arriving on the scene.  We immediately found a pair of humpbacks that were slowly circling the area, and one of them kicked up its tail flukes on every breath.   You loved the tails shots but never knew when a terminal or deep dive was happening…a small problem and we all dealt with it emotionally within 0.1 seconds.  After a nice visit with this first pair of #whales, we headed southeast a bit and found some playful common dolphins.  Bear in mind, as previously mentioned, the water was extremely clear and blue thus watching agile little cetaceans was a real treat as the warm sunlight shone down upon their slick fusiform bodies.  A Minke whale surfaced near the boat 5 or 6 times.

Next we proceeded further along the southeastern course only to find yet another pair of humpback whales.  It was Rope and a buddy.   These two were even more friendly and joined the trend du jour of having 3-4 minute down times.  It is always like a homecoming party when we bump into our old pal Rope.  I’ve personally be photographing her and her calves (she did not give birth this year) since 2007, and the more senior crew members have seen her since around 2002.

After Rope and friend, we got on the path again and ended up at Scorpion Harbor where our tour of the northeastern coast of Santa Cruz Island began.  We slowly moved along in a westerly direction along the edge of the spectacular sea cliffs and luxurious kelp forests.   Several groups of kayakers were out exploring the caves and coves.  We went inside the stunning and unique Potato Harbor and enjoyed the special geology and beauty of this little gem.  Finally we headed away from the island on a course back to Santa Barbara.   A short distance north of Santa Cruz the vistas were so wide that you could see from Santa Rosa Island all the way east to Boney Ridge in the Santa Monica Mountains.  Just past mid-Channel we came upon a large (75 or so) pod of Risso’s dolphins whose white bodies glowed beneath the super clear ocean.  These were not shy Risso’s, and the views of the pod were fabulous.

I’ll post the photos from today’s trip to sometime this weekend.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express

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