2015 12-30 SB Channel
An eye-popping day with clean, fresh air and great cetacean sightings. All four islands were in plain view and the sea conditions were great. The first 2 of our 6 gray whale sightings was directly out of the harbor on the 50-fm curve. Two large gray whales were “on a mission,” tracking directly east (which is one of two ways to go south in the Santa Barbara Channel). We watched for a while then moved further south.
Our second sighting was about 40 min later than the first and consisted of two adult humpback whales moving around a small open ocean hot spot. There were approximately 200 long-beaked common dolphins, lots of California sea lions, and a bunch of active seabirds all working this zone. We watched for a while the moved south.
Along the northern face of Santa Cruz Island we found the next 2 of our 6 gray whales, and as the earlier whales, they were heading east with only slight course changes — one of which was to swim alongside the Condor Express for a look-see. We watched for a while then moved to the nearby world-famous Painted Cave. Dave did his usual complete interpretation of the geology, anthropology and biology of this, our largest of the eight, islands. The Cave penetration was a good one despite a small ground swell and surge inside the cavern itself. Our next stop was the west end of the island and the entrance to Santa Cruz Channel.
Near the northern entrance to Santa Cruz Channel we located a dozen rafting California sea lions and also sighted the final pair of gray whales to make our total six for the day.
Hope to see you out sometime this week while the weather is so good. It’s supposed to “rain” next week, or so the myth-makers at NOAA say.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express