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Gluttony west of Hondo

2019 07-25 SB Channel-West

Captain Colton ran about as far west as he could possibly go on a single whale watch trip to locate fantastic cetacean numbers and behaviors. Skies were partly covered by thin, sub-tropical clouds. The sea surface was very nice. Totals for the trip include: 10+ humpback whales and 3500+ long-beaked common dolphins.

The Condor Express ended up northwest of Platform Hondo, in the Gaviota area, after a trip up the coast that featured thousands of dolphins, so many it was impossible to count directly. Nonetheless, the dolphins were exceptional to watch and featured several exclusive nursery pods in which practically every adult was escorting a tiny, often football-sized, juvenile. The future of this species in the Channel is looking optimistic.

It was feast or famine today for the whales. I should say it was famine then feast, because we ran all the way to hot spot in Gaviota without a whale. Then we hit the jackpot. We closely watched 10 whales, but there were many more spouts in the surrounding waters.

Among the various whale surface behaviors, today we saw many instances of lunge-feeding. Sometimes it was straight up, and other times it was more diagonal or even a horizontal forward thrust. Once again we watched Dos Equis, “the most remarkable whale,” as it has been called by some. It’s feeding is absolutely unique in terms of the surface tail-swipe, then looping back to feed. We wondered how this behavior came about. Captain Colton hypothesized (evidence yet to be collected) that perhaps this individual is injured or has a defect preventing “normal” lunge-feeding. Of course lunge-feeding covers a spectrum of actual movements, so perhaps this sweep-loop style is just an improvisation on a theme. The Miles Davis of humpback feeding?

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

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