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Hot spot near The Buoy! Thousands of dolphins on a hot spot with very active humpbacks.

Image: Humpback among Long-beaked common dolphins.

2023 05-24 SB Channel

Captain Dave and the crew reported a high, gray marine layer that broke to partly clear and sunny skies. Seas were calm and a very light breeze wafted across the middle of the Channel later in the trip. Sightings were very good: 10+ Humpback whales and 3000+ Long-beaked common dolphins.

After a short exploratory trip to the west through an often-productive area off UCSB, we ended up west of the NOAA East Channel Buoy. We invested a good amount of time here as there was a dolphin megapod-based hot spot that stretched east for more than a mile. In addition to several thousand dolphins that came together, then separated a few times, the area was ripe with active sea birds and more than 6 humpback whales.

As we surveyed this first hot spot a single adult whale breached off our port side. It was a nice ¾-body effort. Seconds later another whale breached a bit behind the first one. A possible coordinated cascade breaching event produced yet another, third whale breach, again just a bit past number 2. Boom, boom and boom.

Dave moved the boat east, towards the Buoy, and located 4 more whales. The first in this new area was a humpback cow-calf pair…always fun to watch. A third whale, a large adult, was seen throwing its tail in the distance and we moved to its location carefully. Another humpback, echoing the tail-throwing adult, went into a long sequence of throwing its tail that included both dorsal side up, AND upside-down (ventral side up) throwing. If you’ve been doing your yoga, you can try that for yourself someday!

You never know what mother nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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