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Gorgeous conditions, wonderful sightings!

2019 10-25 SB Channel

Glassy seas with little to no wind or swell made wildlife finding/watching a dream. Skies were clear and one could see from Bony Mountain to the far east all the way to San Miguel to the far west. Incredible! Sightings for the day included 2 humpback whales, 2000 long-beaked common dolphins and 600 short-beaked common dolphins. There is more to the story than mere numbers.

Forty minutes out from Santa Barbara Harbor the continuous presence of dolphin pods began. First it was a group of 50, another of 500, then 200…and so it went all day long. One of these groups was a nursery pod with medium-sized juveniles. We were east of the NOAA buoy by this time.

Our first whale sighting was of a relatively “shy” beast. It surfaced twice and had impossibly long dive times in between. Our keen-eyed deckhand Colton had already found spouts several miles south towards the west end of Santa Cruz Island. On the scene we found a similarly long-winded whale. It was a scarred up giant, and it almost immediately began to interact with one or two California sea lions on the surface. The two species spent quite a bit of time nose-to-nose. The sea lion was jumping and throwing its body around the rostrum region of the whale. The whale moved its body towards the sea lion, rolled around, moved its long pectorals at the little pest, did a nice chin-lift, and (on one occasion) threw its massive tail. It also let loose a loud trumped vocalization at one point. After a long interaction, the whale dove and disappeared from view.

Out final big sighting of the day was a great, close-up view of the majestic sea cliffs of Santa Cruz Island and a trip inside the first chamber of the world-famous Painted Cave. It was mill pond flat in and around the Cave…so very special.

On the way back to the harbor we passed a medium sized pod of long-beaked, and a larger pod of short-beaked common dolphins.

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

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