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Blue whales back in the Channel.

2017 11-15 SB Channel

The blue sky was interrupted by beautiful high clouds that let plenty of warm sun down to the ocean surface.  The surface was pretty glassy and smooth except where the dolphin mega-pod had things chopped up a bit.  It was a t-shirt day in the Santa Barbara Channel and there was plenty of wildlife to keep whale fans on their feet.  Four humpback whales, four blue whales, 1500 long-beaked common dolphins and nearly 100 California sea lions were closely watched today.  It was great to see blue whales back in the Channel.

The day was packed with things to see:

1040 – Dave gave us an up-close and personal tour of Platform Hillhouse, one of the 7 oil rigs seen off the Carpinteria coast.  His talk included facts about the platforms currently operating in the Channel, their history, and some of the pertinent ecological considerations.

1045 – Just southeast of Hillhouse a  pair of humpbacks was spotted by our sharp-eyed deckhand Eric.  At the same location we followed and watched the aforementioned megapod of dolphins.  There were plenty of calves in the group as well as quite a bit of reproductive activity.  Quite a few shearwaters and California sea lions were also active in this area.

1130 – We passed several rafts of sea lions with their pectoral flippers in the air, thermoregulating, and then two more humpback whales.  We were now south of Platform Hogan and made a course change to head south.

1215 – A small group of dolphins located the Condor Express and played with our waves for a while as we continued south.

1220 – Several miles north of the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island four tall spouts were seen.  These spouts were glowing, back-lit by the sun and contrasted against the dark sea cliffs of the island.  These were the tall spouts that characterize giant blue whales on the surface.  Two giants headed west, and the other two ran east and were closer to the boat.  We had great looks over a long period of time watching the east-bound whales.  During this sighting a humpback whale was seen breaching in the distance.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express

Trip photos:  CondorExpressPhotos.com

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