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Gray Whales, a Humpback and dolphins

2016 01-27 SB Channel

Captain Dave and the crew of the Condor Express found perfectly glassy sea conditions with a high overcast sky as they crossed the Santa Barbara Channel today. There were long-beaked common dolphins everywhere we went including in the Channel, at Santa Cruz Island and even close to the Harbor. The estimated total for common dolphins was approximately 600 for the day.

Our first destination was the world-famous Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island followed by a tour of the western end and dramatic sea cliffs. From here Dave took the Condor into the Santa Cruz Channel and located two pods of gray whales. The first of the gray whales was a pair found heading south and located well inside the SC Channel. Although they were rather businesslike, they did fluke-up frequently which was fun to see.   The second pod was larger, with 6 very active adult gray whales and found near the north entrance to the SC Channel. By “active” I mean they were rolling around and generally cavorting, perhaps with some subsurface mating going on. No floyds were observed.

On the way back to Santa Barbara Harbor there was a giant hot spot full of northern anchovies being attacked on all sides by California sea lions, common dolphins and various sea bird species. One adult humpback whale was also found feeding on the little silver fishes. These hot spots are always spectacular to see.

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

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