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High Flyin’ Humpbacks & Sea Lions & We Got Mugged

2015 08-20 SB Channel

Acting on good intel from our friends in the fleet, Captain Eric steered a southwesterly course out of Santa Barbara Harbor today until the Condor Express reached its first whale at 1055 am. At that point we were sitting on glassy seas with a thin marine layer and a few miles south of Hogan. This first humpback #whale featured long-ish 8 minute down times and frequently no more than a single breath on the surface. About 50 long-beaked common dolphins were in the area as were a very active and playful pair of California sea lion juveniles. The antics of the two pinnipeds stole the show at this first stop.

1135 am found us due east of Habitat entering the southern end of The Flats. At first we saw a single humpback spout, and about 500 or so #dolphins.   Soon two more #whales joined the first one and one of the trio breached several times, some close to the boat. Another of the trio had two deep, old wounds on its tail stock…was it an old entanglement or a result of a ship strike and huge propeller?

We stopped for a few moments at 1245 pm to watch a small but friendly Minke whale cracking the glassy surface in front of our bow. Soon another 250 long-beaked common dolphins came through the zone, and an initial sighting of 2 more humpbacks was made here. A small hot spot that was highly motile developed, and the dolphins, sea lions and seabirds worked the anchovies into a ball so the whales could feed below the surface. Two additional whales soon joined the hot spot making a quartet of humpbacks.   One of the new comers was the whale we sighted earlier with the tail stock wounds.   At this point we were 10 miles or so southeast of Habitat and had no idea what was going to happen next.

A single new humpback whale with a depression behind its head and an associated “camel” hump near the dorsal fin and an entirely light gray body, joined the quartet and very quickly came over to the Condor for a very friendly approach. As if waiting for the gray humpback to show the way, the rest of the whales soon followed suit and we got mugged by all 5 in fairly nice clear water. This is the stuff that makes your pulse quicken for sure.

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

I’ll get today’s photographs posted on the web sometime Saturday. www.CondorExpressPhotos.com

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