2015 10-14 SB Channel
For the most part it was an overcast kind of day in the Santa Barbara Channel. We left the Harbor at 1030am with our cruise ship whale watchers and ran into patchy fog. Later the fog lifted to reveal clouds moving in as rain is once again in the forecast for tonight. Seas were very calm albeit with a little tiny chop. Cobalt clear waters persist.
Captain Dave and ojos del águila Auggie quickly located a small feeding aggregation of marine life about 7 miles south of the Harbor. Although most of the prey schools were beneath the surface, once or twice they came up as we saw a few instances of vertical surface lunge feeding by 7 humpback whales. The by-catch of this lunging provided an incentive for long-beaked common dolphins (they were with us all day and we saw at least 1,500 of them) and various sea birds (black-vented shearwaters, gulls, a few brown pelicans, and some elegant terns) to create a scene. Three of these initial 7 whales are on the Condor Express Humpback Whale Honor Roll: Rope, Top Notch and Scarlet were all there feeding on what is left of the anchovy population. There was also a 4th whale we see all the time that has the tip of its left tail fluke missing. We have not named it yet, but I’m thinking we’ll call it “TFTM” (tail fluke tip missing) and add it to the Condor Express Humpback Whale Honor Roll immediately. (see photograph above)
Oddly enough many of the dolphins slapped their tails loudly on the surface and this behavior went on the whole time we were with them. Many smaller-than-football-sized “Tom Brady” dolphin calves were in the pod. Taking a cue from the dolphins, there were also a couple of unanticipated, random and singleton tale throws by humpback whales too, as well as two “out of the blue” breaches.
Later, on our way back to the Harbor via offshore oil and gas Platform C and Dave’s always professional introduction to the offshore oil and gas habitat in the Channel, we found another humpback whale because it breached (once) making our whale total 8 for the day.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express