2019 09-21 SB Channel
The Channel was nice, calm, and without wind. It was sunny all day. All 4 islands could be discerned in the haze, but there was no fog. Sightings included: 30 Risso’s dolphins, 1 Minke whale, 2500 short-beaked common dolphins, and 1500 long-beaked common dolphins. There were nearly zero time periods without marine wildlife around us.
Not far from the harbor entrance, and beyond the cruise ship “Island Princess” that was anchored about ½ mile offshore, a single Minke whale was on patrol. We had at least 25 surfacing intervals to watch, and many were close to the Condor Express. It was another very good Minke whale sighting.
Dolphins were all around, and the first pod was seen shortly after our Minke encounter. It was a group of at least 1000 long-beaked common dolphins, and they were moving from hotspot to hotspot feeding on patches of northern anchovies. Several of these anchovy patches were near the surface and could plainly be seen by everyone on board. A second, smaller group was a nursery pod. Every adult (Mom) had a calf in tow. Nothing delights people more than a nice nursery pod in the morning.
High-flying short-beaked common dolphins came along. Their tendency for aerial activity is remarkable, and we are correct most of the time when we guess their species by watching high leaps from a distance. We always confirm the species when we get close by looking at the shorter beak (duh) and bold dark eye surrounded by white skin.
On our way to visit beautiful Santa Cruz Island we intercepted a small, tight pod of about 15 Risso’s dolphins. This first pod of Risso’s was also a nursery pod. The calves varied from newborns to much larger and older individuals. The Painted Cave was nearby, and Captain Dave put the Condor inside the first chamber. Upon leaving the island, we passed through an area with another 15 or so Risso’s. This pod was scattered out pretty wide.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com