Another wild wild wildlife day in the Santa Barbara Channel – September 19, 2016 – with the following total population counts: Long-beaked common dolphins = 1,825; Short-beaked common dolphins = 1,000; Humpback whale = 1; and, at least 500 California sea lions. The weather was mostly dense fog with flat calm seas, but the fog broke up as we neared Santa Cruz Island where winds came in from the southeast and brought light rain. Did I mention “wild?”
Captain Eric ran back out to the hot spot where all the life was located yesterday, along the 50-fathom curve. There was dense fog, but long-beaked common dolphins were abundant. Small groups of these dolphins came around and targeted the Condor Express with their attention. This region was also rich with sea birds and California sea lions.
The next stop was a bit south and here the long-beaked common dolphin groups were much larger but just as friendly. Eric reports thousands of shearwaters mixed with gulls all over this hot spot. Perhaps the lack of wind and visibility kept the birds down on the water for a while. More large herds of long-beaks were also found near the East Channel Buoy.
South of The Lanes a massive mega-pod of short-beaked common dolphins were encountered. This species was much more acrobatic, aerial and active in the vicinity of the boat and beyond, as compared with their long-beaked “cousins.” Sea birds continued to be abundant as well.
Finally, very close to West Point, Santa Cruz Island (see topozone.com map above) huge mega-mobs of California sea lions were encountered. Each mob consisted of several hundred brown furry animals that rested on the surface and porpoised around the area together. Near the famous Painted Cave, a single humpback whale showed up…very close to the sea cliffs. It was moving west slowly, but did make a couple of friendly passes by the Condor. We were in a mere 180-feet of water at the time. What a wild day it was!
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express