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First mother and calf gray whales of the season …. and lots more!

A large female gray whale. photo: Bob Perry Condor Express

First mother and calf gray whales of the season …. and lots more!

We ran only one trip today:  it was a showdown at high noon.  The morning fog had lifted to become some low overcast with thin spots that felt warm.  Not long out of the mouth of Santa Barbara Harbor which was guarded by the harbor dredge “La Encina,” we found a cow-calf gray whale pair.  They were traveling along in shallow water, sometime inside the giant kelp beds, sometime outside.  The duo was pretty much all business and heading west to exit the Santa Barbara Channel en route north to Alaskan waters.  But as babies do sometimes, “junior” turned around and headed back to the east a couple of times and in doing so both mom and the baby did some nice head lifts to thrill the spectators.  There were two pods of inshore bottle nose dolphins, a total of 10 or so, in the vicinity.  At one point there was some dolphin-gray whale interaction.

After watching the mother and calf gray whale from Leadbetter’s Beach all the way to More Mesa, we turned offshore because our friends on the fishing vessel “Stardust” had radioed to say there were lots of common dolphins just offshore of our location.  En route to the common dolphins, the keen eyes of deckhand Augie spotted a very tall blow, and then two more tall spouts behind the first.  Before long we were in good view of three humpback whales.  We stayed pretty much with the closest humpback whale, and it made a very friendly approach.  All the while we were surrounded by a huge herd of long beaked common dolphins, perhaps as many as 2,000, that were spread out over a mile or so of ocean.

Birdwise, there were 5 or 6 huge flocks of migrating Brandt’s traveling in convoluted streams that created interesting patterns in the sky.  A few sooty shearwaters were around, as well as elegant and royal terns.  On the water I saw a nice pair of common loons in their breeding plumage.

I’ll post up the photos sometime before the weekend is over. You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry Condor Express

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