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Gorgeous winter whales and dolphins

2018 12-29 SB Channel

Winter is here and the Santa Barbara Channel was spectacular today with clear blue skies and views of all 4 northern Channel Islands. The wildlife was also very good: 25 inshore bottlenose dolphins, 2000 long-beaked common dolphins, and 3 humpback whales were closely watched.

A large, spread-out group of bottlenose dolphins found us as we rounded the red harbor entrance buoy and finished our mandatory sea lion observations. The group had several calves and one of them was quite small. They took turns riding the bow and frequently traveled alongside the Condor Express.

Not far beyond the bottlenose encounter a small group of 100 or so common dolphins also located the boat. These smaller dolphins rode our bow, side and stern waves and were just far enough offshore to be in much clearer and bluer water than the coastal bottlenose dolphins were. Later we found thousands of additional common dolphins in the mid-Channel region where the humpback whales were watched.

Tasha and Dave had spotted a single, tall whale spout using binoculars that turned out to be around 15 miles offshore. The wonderful clear air and bright sun made this amazing feat possible. This first of the three whales had a single-minded purpose in life, it was to swim a straight line towards Anacapa Island. It had long down times and took a single breath when it did finally surface. Captain Dave was able to maneuver the boat such that fantastic looks were had by all. As previously mentioned, this region of the Channel was flooded with common dolphins, some of which rode the nose wave of the whales while others took to random spells of leaping.

Closer to Santa Cruz Island a pair of whales was found not far out from the Painted Cave area. These surfaced and dove in synchrony, and spent more time up than down. A great contrast to the behavior of whale number one. After our great visit with this pair of whales, the two Captains took us into the mouth of the world-famous Painted Cave. Dave also provided additional information regarding the Island and its current and former inhabitants.

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

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