2015 05-18 SB Channel
About 3 miles or so north of the commercial shipping lanes we encountered the first of our two “hot spots” with common dolphins (1,500), sea lions (hundreds), sea birds (mostly sooty shearwaters and brown pelicans), and about 12 humpback whales. There was not much swell in this area but the wind was moderate and the surface was perhaps a 3 on the Beaufort sea state scale.
En route to the hot spot Captain Dave stopped the Condor Express to look at two medium sized ocean sunfish (Mola mola) in greenish water. As for the humpback whales on this first stop, there were many more spouts in all directions one could add to the dozen we closely watched. Four of these beasts made a very friendly but fast swim right next to the Condor. Wise ol’ Dave had us in neutral and it’s good he did as one of the 4 surfaced right of the bow and scared the bejeebers out of all the loyal fans that had no way of knowing what was coming at them.
We then sailed off towards Santa Cruz Island, still a fair distance away, but seas were getting rougher the farther we went out, so Dave wisely (remember he’s wise) turned our course to the northeast and rode the swells towards Platform Charlie. He gave a great introductory talk about the oil platforms which are described in the oil company brochures as “sky-scrapers of the sea.”
On our way Dave spotted a large Minke whale and we had two nice but fast looks. Continuing north a bit more, deckhand Augie spotted spouts between us and the beach. At this point the spouts were probably about 3½ miles off East Beach. It was another “hot spot” with all the usual animals as previously described. We initially watched 2 humpback whales, then moved north a bit more and found 3 more. We were attracted to these spouts by a prolonged episode of tail slapping starting when we were a few miles away. It included two rest periods during which the beast rolled on its side and slapped its long pectoral fin instead. There were another 500 or so dolphins in this zone as well.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express
Look for photographs sometime tomorrow afternoon. www.CondorExpressPhotos.com