2020 08-03 SB Channel
Captain Colton says “best trip I’ve ever been on!”
The coastal fog layer burned off quickly, and the moderate chop near the harbor flattened-out, so the conditions for the trip were all about sunny skies and calm seas. Phenomenal sightings and behaviors were noted today leading Captain Colton to say it was the “best trip I’ve ever been on!”
Totals for closely observed cetaceans included: 300 Short-beaked common dolphins, 500 offshore Bottlenose dolphins, 50 Risso’s dolphins and 14+ giant blue whales. (The “+” sign indicates many more whales in the surrounding area, but not closely watched today).
Old “Osprey-eyes” deckhand Devin once again chalked up the first whale of the day. It was a shy blue whale located near the NOAA East Channel buoy (a misnomer since this buoy is nearly smack dab in the middle of the Channel). More about the rest of the whales is below.
As we moved towards The Lanes, on our way to the western end of beautiful Santa Cruz Island, a completely mixed-species group of 50 Risso’s dolphins and approximately 25 offshore Bottlenose dolphins was encountered. The Risso’s were semi-friendly and the bottlenose were highly active. Soon thereafter we watched numerous additional Bottlenose groups covering many miles of ocean.
South of The Lanes the action continued as we were located by a nice group of very active and aerial Short-beaked common dolphins. They leaped, jumped, tail-walked, rode our waves and a few did some high flying as well.
Nearer to the west end, deckhand Austin and his colleague Osprey-eyes nearly fell overboard simultaneously as the whole ocean seemed to erupt in very tall spouts. The crew estimates that well over 20 blue whales were in this “land of the giants,” and we carefully watched at least 14 of them. It was a day full of tail flukes as, at least to the crew, that practically every whale tail-fluked. In addition to the amazing numbers of giant around us, at one point 4 of the beasts came up right next to the Condor Express and stayed there for a few moments of blue whale mugging!
Given our location, Captain Colton ran along the dramatic sea cliffs and put the bow of the boat into the shade zone of the world-famous Painted Cave for a look at this geological phenomenon. On the way home we passed through additional blue whales.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com