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FIVE different cetacean species and more Mola mola

2022 06-11 Santa Cruz Channel

Skies were overcast all day but the sea was calm and glassy. Very clear water enhanced our sightings of 5 different species of cetaceans and 1 pelagic fish. These included: 30+ ocean sunfish (Mola mola), 1 humpback whale, 1 Minke whale, 75 offshore bottlenose dolphins, 10 Risso’s dolphins and 500 long-beaked common dolphins. It was a very productive excursion.

Many of the sightings took place in the “gap” between Santa Cruz Island to the east and Santa Rosa Island to the west. These waters are correctly known as the Santa Cruz Channel. Our first encounter here was with a small pod of 30 common dolphins…beautiful, as they all were, given the water clarity. Soon a good-sized pod of highly agile offshore bottlenose dolphins came into the zone. This spot also produced very good looks at a single Minke whale that did not take any deep, or terminal, dives while we were on station.

Moving east within the Santa Cruz Channel from the above sightings, we found a single humpback whale. It was a juvenile with long down times. We watched it through 3 breathing cycles and were rewarded with a nice look it its tail flukes. Later, still in the SC Channel, we found very boat-friendly Risso’s dolphins…always great to see these squid-eaters.

Finally, not far from Santa Barbara Harbor, we watched a much larger pod of common dolphins and punctuated a great day full of wonderful species diversity.

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

Condor Express, and

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