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Cetaceans Abound


2015 04-08 SB Coast

The Condor Express left Santa Barbara Harbor for three trips today (9a, 12n, 3p) with a nice breeze but otherwise great conditions for finding and watching marine mammals.   Here’s the story of each adventure:

9 am. Inside the harbor there were 7 Pacific harbor seals on the bait barge, and outside we found a nice breeze and very light chop, so not a problem heading west. Almost right away we found a wide-spread pod of at least 300 long-beaked common dolphins which led us to some spouts up ahead off Hendry’s Beach. There were 3 gray whales that started pretty close together…a mother and calf plus another adult. The “other” adult soon picked up speed and put some distance between itself and the cow-calf pair. The pair was meandering a bit and no doubt the “other” adult had no reason to join the slow downs. Further west we found another pod of around 100 common #dolphins near More Mesa. By now we had gone far enough to the west to find ourselves in some moderate chop and winds. The dolphins leaped over the swells in synchrony. Lastly, we found a pair of large adult gray #whales and even more spouts in the distance.

12 noon. We picked up speed and surveyed the nearshore corridor until we located another mother and her calf off Isla Vista. The calf stayed close to Mom and the pair did loop back once and almost lost us. About 250 common dolphins were found off Campus Point. There were an inordinate number of calves in this pod, it seemed to me. Later in the excursion we found another very large adult gray whale GOING SOUTH ! about 2½ miles south of the harbor. It was a beast. Finally, we arrived back to the docks late because another tightly packed pod of 50 long-beaked common dolphins were located out around the “Crown Princess” cruise ship from whence all of our noon passengers came.

3 pm. One gray whale got friendly and swam down the entire length of the Condor Express just barely underwater while it watched us watching it. A “hot spot” full of seabirds, sea lions and dolphins feeding on anchovies was found and the dolphins around this spot included 300 or so common dolphins and 50 Pacific white-sided dolphins.

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

Online trip photos: Get his report via email:

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