Another spectacular trip to the far west Santa Barbara Channel


A trumpet blow vocalization followed by a tail slap from an adult humpback whale today. photo: CondorExpressPhotos.com


Another spectacular trip to the far west Santa Barbara Channel

The marine layer overcast was just breaking into bright sun as we left Santa Barbara Harbor this morning.  The water color was crisp, clear blue and we were greeted by numerous feeding hot spots.   Sea birds, especially large flocks of sooty shearwaters, common dolphins, brown pelicans and California sea lions were all busy having brunch.  Soon a Minke whale showed up and we continued watching this typically elusive smallest of all baleen whales for at least 20 minutes.  The Minke worked around the edges of a large bait ball full of northern anchovies.  Particularly interesting, as you will see when I post the photos from today’s trip online tomorrow, was a behavior the Minke used several times as we all watched and learned.  It was below the surface and below the bait ball when it let loose several bubble blasts.  The column of air bubbles rose up through the anchovy masses almost as if the Minke might have been imitating the bubble net feeding of humpback whales in Alaskan waters.  Very curious stuff.

We were accompanied by long beaked common #dolphins throughout the trip, and counting their numbers is actually pretty impossible but the Captain and I came up with 4,000, for what it’s worth.  One large and one medium sized ocean sunfish or Mola mola were seen on the surface.  The large one appeared to be feeding on a fried egg  jelly Phacellophora camtschatica when we first sighted it…and that’s no yolk.  The keen eyes of deckhand Augie located a lone tall spout in the midst of all the dolphins and seabirds.  It was a full grown and very cooperative humpback whale that had super short down times (3 minutes) and kicked up its flukes on every dive.  We watched this beast for over 30 minutes, and as we were getting set to leave to explore the western Channel, the #humpback vocalized…a trumpet blow…and then proceeded to slap its mighty tail 4 or 5 times.  It was a really good show.

Our search to the far west only resulted in more and more common dolphins, sea lions and birds.  It is always a special treat to see the beautiful western Channel coastline and today it was looking good.  Later we returned to the original humpback for a few more looks on our way back to the Harbor.

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

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