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Dolphin Day plus whales

2016 04-29 SB Coast

An excellent Spring day with great sea conditions and outstanding cetacean sightings.  The Condor Express left Santa Barbara on two excursions today, and here are the specifics:

9 am We headed west and into the very small, tight waves that came from winds in the western Channel.  A slight breeze and wisps of thin fog kept the early morning cool but very nice.  By 950 am we were off More Mesa where we found 15 inshore bottlenose dolphins near the beach and about 250 long-beaked common dolphins about 2 miles offshore.  The common dolphins were accompanied by a cadre of noisy elegant terns.  It seemed to me that these smart water fowl were keying in on upside down dolphins.  This batch of common dolphins was spending some time upside down as the pod moved through small patches of bait near the surface.  It was upside down feeding and the terns seemed to have gotten the message.  There are two main reasons why dolphins are upside down and we’ll get into the second reason on the afternoon trip.

Around 1015am we turned around and headed east to hopefully locate some gray whales.  A while after the turn we found a second batch of another 15 or so inshore bottlenose dolphins, then, within minutes, we located and followed 4 gray whales.  It was 2 mother-calf pairs heading along the kelp beds.  Great looks were had by all.

12 noon The afternoon trip found us throttled up and heading west to re-locate the gray whales from the morning trip.  We found 1 cow-calf pair around 1240pm at More Mesa and followed them as far as the Goleta Pier.  During this sighting the mother whale essentially spent the whole time following her calf as it swam into the beach then a mile or so off the beach.  It slowed down, perhaps soliciting nursing, then sped up at an amazing speed.  It’s enough to drive a mother whale crazy.

The last sighting of the day was another pod of long-beaked common dolphins with about 150 or so in the group.  By this time the sea surface was glassy and calm and made dolphin watching a wonderful thing to do…but isn’t it always?  This was the first all-out “orgy pod” I’ve seen in a while, and featured lots of upside-down (males) under smaller female dolphins all over the area.  Mark your calendars.  There is going to be a small population explosion coming.

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

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