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Heaps of wildlife in the Channel

Image: a pair of humpback whales are seen lunge-feeding on northern anchovies

2023 11-24 SB Channel

Sunny skies prevailed in our neck of the Channel today. Seas had a light bump from overnight winds to the northwest of us. Otherwise, there was only a light breeze. Sightings were great: 9 humpback whales, 1 Minke whale, 400 long-beaked common dolphins and 200 California sea lions.

Captain Dave stopped for a few minutes to talk about the kelp farm, then our deckhand, Eddie, led us to a nearby hot spot with 3 humpback whales actively surface lunge-feeding (see today’s photo). We watched this spectacular feeding episode for quite a while. At one point the whales made a few close passes by the Condor Express. This trio appeared to be a mother-calf pair plus an adult. The hot spot supported a few hundred dolphins and sea lions. It was a seabird frenzy zone with a few active birdnados. It was interesting that the whales did their surface lunging within and outside the active bird feeding areas. The mom-calf pair moved south to a nearby area where we kept an eye on some additional whales.

On approaching the second whale area, the little calf got aerial and active. It breached 3 or 4 times, rolled around, swam on its side, and did a few tail-throws. (Research has shown that juvenile humpbacks must get regular exercise like this to promote good myoglobin formation. Myoglobin is an oxygen source found in their muscle tissues). The second area had 6 humpbacks spread out over the area. Two of the six also did some surface lunge-feeding.

On the way home we watched two surface intervals of a Minke whale and had a brief introductory tour of the Summerland offshore oil platforms.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store,

Bob Perry Condor Express, and

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