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Blue whale(s), humpback whales, gray whale, and two kinds of dolphins

Image: Blue whale in the Santa Barbara Channel


2024 05-09 SB Channel 


Captain Dave and the crew the Condor Express ran southwest and ended up on the edge of The Lanes near Carrington Point, Santa Rosa Island. Conditions were ideal: hazy sunshine, no wind, no chop, and a long period swell that you wouldn’t notice unless you’re at Rincon surfing. Sightings for the day included: 2500 common dolphins, 15 offshore bottlenose dolphins, 1 gray whale, 1 blue whale, five humpback whales, and a big fat ocean sunfish (Mola mola).


As we tried to exit the harbor, we stopped at the entrance to watch a sub-adult gray whale. It was actively feeding on the shallow sandy bottom, and kicking up a mud stream with bubble blasts. As a sidenote, the beast was still there when we came back 4 1/2 hours later. By this time it was surrounded by small boats and kayaks and standup paddlers. So much for the Marine Mammal Protection act.


2 miles south of the harbor we entered into an area with 800 or more common dolphins in the long line. They were accompanied by all sorts of diving and surface feeding birds.

A bit later we stopped to watch a very large ocean sunfish (Mola mola). It was a friendly animal and everyone got great looks.


We headed further south and, when we were on the edge of The Lanes, just a little bit east of The Cave, a pod of 15 very active offshore bottlenose dolphins came by to take a look at the boat.  Common dolphins continued throughout the entire trip. We saw small pods everywhere including around the bottlenose dolphins.


While we were still in The Lanes, and about even with the middle of the Santa Cruz Channel, we located a giant blue whale. It had 12 minute down times so we watched it through three complete cycles. The massive size of the animal hit us right away. We assumed that the beast was feeding subsurface, but no tell tale red poop was floating.


We moved even further west, and, in The Lanes off of Carrington Point, we saw five humpback whales. First we watched a single, then a pair, and finally two more single whales. The humpbacks were also feeding subsurface. As we turned away to head home, there was what we believe to be another blue whale spout. But it was not closely watched, so it does not appear in our tally for the day.


You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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