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Gray whales, humpback whales, Risso's dolphins, common dolphins...AND ORCAS!

(Above: Killer whale (Orcinus orca) near Santa Cruz Island)

2022 12-29 SB Channel

Skies were overcast but the rain held off until the end of the trip. Seas were calm. Sightings were phenomenal: 30 Risso’s dolphins, 15 long-beaked common dolphins, 3 gray whales, 2 humpback whales, and 5 killer whales (Orcinus orca).

Captain Dave ran west to The Painted Cave and took the Condor Express inside the first chamber as the first stop on a fabulous day full of sightings. By the way, the Cave waterfall was flowing nicely today. Moving west, we soon came upon 30 Risso’s dolphins that were friendly to the boat and gave us wonderful looks.

Our next sightings were to the east and started close to Chinese Harbor where we encountered a pod of Killer whales (Orcinus orca). The group has been identified as the CA-51A pod and contained a large male and also a calf. Just prior to our arrival they had taken a California sea lion and were collectively feeding. They made several passes close to the boat and a few nice jumps and spyhops were seen as well.

Heading north towards Santa Barbara we soon found 3 gray whales, all adults. These stayed on a strict migratory path southbound except for one nice instance of a whale rolling around a bit.

Two miles further north we found 2 adult humpback whales, also in “travel mode.” Again, we had wonderful looks.

Our final wildlife encounter was with a small pod of long-beaked common dolphins…always a treat.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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