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Five gray whales and a kelp cutter in the fog

2016 02-29 SB Channel

Santa Barbara Harbor re-opened today after a 4-day closure for sand dredging operations in the mouth of the harbor. Captain Eric ran one trip on a mill pond glassy surface and very clear water. That fog bank that has been moving in and out all week was definitely “in” today. Here is the story:

12 noon We made our way out of the harbor using the very narrow and newly deepened channel created by the dredge barge La Encina.   A harbor patrol boat guided our way through the channel and around the many obstacles associated with supporting the dredge. Once we left the sea lions on the entrance buoy Eric was using radar navigation. Visibility in the fog ranged from less than 100 yards up to one-quarter mile. Needless to say, these were not ideal conditions for finding spouts. At one point the kelp cutting vessel Ocean Harvest appeared out of the fog.

It was alumni day again on the Condor Express and former deckhand Mason demonstrated his skills by finding all 5 gray whales observed today. The first pair were found along the 50-fathom curve and were moving quickly west.   We had a couple of looks and then the fog swallowed them (like Jonah’s revenge). We continued moving west along the 50, until Mason found the rest of the gray whales…a trio of very active and social animals. Our first glimpse was of a massive breach, a half-body aerial by one of these three adult grays.

As we continued watching in the fog, the trio rolled around, had flukes in the air, lifted their heads, and other signs that “something was going on.”   Soon we had to head for home and wish these migratory cetaceans a safe trip to their feeding grounds in Alaskan waters.

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

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