2021 06-26 SB Channel
Blue skies, bright sunshine and a light-to-moderate west breeze made for ideal wildlife watching in the Channel today. The Condor Express crossed the entire Channel and found wildlife all the way across, even on the way home! Sightings included the following closely watched species: 5 humpback whales, 1250 long-beaked common dolphins and 1 ocean sunfish (Mola mola).
Our first of man pods of long-beaked common dolphins was actively chasing small bait fish on the surface. They fed individually and in small hunting packs by speeding towards they’re target fish upside down, then, with lightning speed, they snatched their prey with their dozens of sharp teeth before righting themselves again. Ot was funny to see all those fast moving white bellies.
Soon after the first dolphin encounter, we found our first whale. It had nice long surface times and the typical 5 – 7 minute down times. It was a good whale to watch and we had wonderful looks. A bit more than ½ hour later, our friend Juan spotted the second humpback, which was equally easy to track and observe from a safe distance. Both of the first leviathans were large, adult animals.
We visited a large hot spot with at least 500 dolphins, loads of brown pelicans, and quite a few sooty shearwaters. The sooty’s are here to molt and feed on one small leg of their giant figure 8 circum-Pacific annual migratory route.
Around 1pm we were moving east along the beautiful north face of Santa Cruz Island, a few miles out. We passed a Whale Safe buoy. The buoy is “a new mapping and analysis tool launched in September of 2020 that overlays whale and ship location data to reduce fatal collisions,” according to the Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute where the research originates. More dolphins came by as we looked at it.
On our way home we found the rest of the whales individually. One was a bit smaller than the rest of the adult whales we watched today. Another large pod of dolphins was nearby. Our friend Mark spotted the last whale of the day.
During the trip we stopped for a few minutes to attempt good looks at a very small ocean sunfish (Mola mola), but it cautiously remained 6 feet down and obscured by surface waves and turbidity.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com