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Dolphins everywhere but humpback surface behaviors steal the show.

2019 07-19 SB Channel

The sun broke through the gloom soon after we left Santa Barbara Harbor and skies remained blue all day. Seas were calm and a very light breeze developed on our way home. Rich marine life used the fine weather backdrop to complete the total trip picture. Closely watched species included 8 humpback whales and 1,500 long-beaked common dolphins. But, as often happens, the numbers do not tell the whole story.

There were two zones of whale activity today. One was about 12 miles due south of the harbor, and the second was about the same distance but off UCSB. Group one consisted of 5 whales in a one mile area. Among the surface actions we witnessed during this first encounter was breaching multiple times by one individual, lunge-feeding by another individual, and feeding by our friend “Dos Equis” (preliminary ID).

Readers may recall that Dos Equis initiated our summer-long series of unique humpback feeding behaviors. Its first-recorded action started with a large surface tail sweep, followed by the whale swimming a tight circle back into the sweep zone and remaining stationary, but rotating (pirouetting) with its mouth wide open, upper jaw out of the water. It then slowly closed its mouth and, in doing so, we assume, trapped some bait fish. Today, however, the whale did its tail sweep, circled around, but seemed to trap its food subsurface most of the time. It demonstrated its out-of-water pirouette only once or twice today.

Of course, as we have reported for many days in a row, dolphins were around everywhere in the Channel, especially near the whale feeding areas.

The second zone, off UCSB, yielded 3 whales. One individual did quite a bit of lob-tailing, and a second whale sustained some tail-throwing for a nice period of time. Curiously, the lob-tailing whale lobbed upside-down, and right-side-up, demonstrating its awesome power with great flexibility.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com

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