It was a hot day as sunny skies, calm seas and a late-season heat wave swooped into the Santa Barbara Channel. Out on the Channel was “the place to be” to escape the hot air and the sightings were spectacular. Species closely watched included 2 humpback whales, 1 Minke whale, 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins and at least 1,000 California sea lions.
The first large pod of dolphins to surround the Condor Express found us about 8 miles south of Santa Barbara. Dave estimated at least 300 animals in this group. After some wonderful looks back and forth we continued on our course heading for Santa Cruz Island.
Near The Lanes a single humpback popped up, took three breaths then had an average of 10-minute down time. It was a regular tail fluker which made the wait worthwhile for smart phone whelfies. We continued on our southerly course.
The next attraction was a tour of the sea cliffs and nearshore environment of beautiful Santa Cruz Island with a guided narration by Captain Dave who has spent his entire adult life around this island. His deft seamanship allowed a special and careful visit into the mouth of the world-famous Painted Cave.
Upon exiting the Cave and departing the Island, it was not long before we once again encountered many mega-mobs of California sea lions with as many as 500 in a mob. Numerous dolphins also turned up in this hot region. After a nice visit Dave turned west.
Near the entrance to Santa Cruz Channel a second humpback whale was seen as well as a large Minke whale. Naturally, more dolphins and sea lions were also in the mix. This rounded-out a hot day of wildlife.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express