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Baby Mola mola, chomping whales, lunge-feeding and more...

Image: Part of a school of young ocean sunfish (Mola mola).

2023 6-11 SB Channel

Active humpbacks and thousands of dolphins were watched in the western Channel again today. We had partly cloudy skies, a light wind with a small amount of wind chop. Sightings included: 2000 long-beaked common dolphins, 7 humpback whales and 30 ocean sunfish (Mola mola).

About ¼ mile outside the harbor about 10 common dolphins located the Condor Express for a quick visit. A few minutes later, off Leadbetter, we watched a small but cooperative ocean sunfish. About one mile further west a legitimate school of very small (8-inch) sunfish was observed (see today’s photo), but they quickly left the surface.

Up past UCSB and 2 or 3 miles south of Coal Oil Point, our first whale sighting included a mother with her calf plus another adult (escort?). The mother exhibited an uncommon “surface chomping” behavior, for which there are a few theories (feeding, cleaning baleen, mouth rinse, etc.). Soon thereafter the little calf mimicked mom and did a couple of mini surface chomps as well. The calf also rolled around, and did some chin-slaps. The calf also did a very slow vertical lunge on an anchovy bait ball. Two additional adults entered the area and joined in the lunge-feeding.

Yet another whale was seen breaching in the near distance. And to the east, we passed another couple of whales for quick looks.

Common dolphins were around in large, scattered groups all day.

You never know what mother nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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