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Epic Day to Eyeball Gray Whales

Captain Mike just finished pulling up to the outer harbor entrance buoy and my verbal intro to California sea lions on the PA had concluded, when second Captain Mike (no relation to the 1st Captain Mike) spotted a bunch of spouts up west near Santa Barbara Point.   Upon arrival at the scene (2 minutes later) we found a tightly packed pod of 4 gray whales heading east along the shoreline in about 60 feet of water.  We enjoyed watching these whales and they were the absolute best we’ve seen so far this season.  One dark whale breached several times and did a series of chin lifts where you could clearly see its eyeball looking across the water at the Condor.  The other 3 whales in the pod also spy-hopped and lifted their chins to go eye-to-eye with us, but they did not breach.  Not that I’m complaining.  The excellent navigation skills of both Mike’s kept us at a respectful distance alongside as this group move along at a brisk 5 knot pace.  After more than an hour of great photo opps we moved further east and within a quarter mile had located 2 more gray whales following the same inshore track.  These 2 whales were rather stationary and before long the original pod of 4 had come into the same zone as the new 2.   At one point a small pod of about 10 long-beaked common dolphins joined the whales.  This spectacle was carried out with a very close view of the beach and beachfront buildings…we never strayed more than a half-mile or so offshore.  Although the Channel was fairly foggy and you could not even see the line of oil platforms off Summerland, the beach was mostly clear, sunny and warm with a light breeze from the west (our stern).  It was a fantastic day to be alive and shooting photographs of gray whales in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Tomorrow’s trip runs 10am to 230pm.   Sunday and the following week (Can you say Santa Ana warm and sunny weather ahead?) we’re doing one at 9am and the other at 1pm. Hope to see you on board.

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

I’ll get these photos up on the web sometime Sunday.

PS  There were 3 fat harbor seals on the bait barge inside the harbor.

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