Although I am guilty of using the term “epic” far too often, I’m sorry, but today was indeed epic. There was bright, warm sun all day. The 9am and 12 noon trips both had glassy seas and hardly a swell to be found. Noon had small patches of light breezes, nothing over 3 or 4 knots. You could, once again, see from Boney Ridge to Santa Rosa Island. And they there were marine mammals…
On the 9am excursion we located 2 humpback whales just west of offshore oil Platform “C” although one of the two was a bit shy. The one we watched was a massively huge whale with a monster tail. We had both large and small pods of long-beaked common dolphins all over the zone, and we estimated at least 2,000 for the trip. The best part of this trip was our discovery of several oceanic hot spots full of gulls, murres, shearwaters, California sea lions (at least 100 for the trip), common dolphins and, of course, humpback whales. Two Minke whales put in a fleeting appearance. After a while we moved on and found an area with 3 more humpback whales, one of which was our pal “Top Notch.” Top Notch made a close and friendly approach to the Condor. With time running short we headed northwest in the direction of Santa Barbara Harbor. But a few miles outside the harbor entrance we located an area with numerous northbound gray whales. We closely watched a pod of 4 gray #whales, but there were many more spouts in the vicinity.
The 12 noon expedition headed southwest for a change and because we spotted spouts a few miles in that direction. Upon arriving on the scene we found 3 gray whales in 250 feet of water off Leadbetter Beach, and there was a bit of “rolling around and socializing” going on. Before long we spotted 4 more gray whale spouts to the west, off Hendry’s Beach, then 4 more gray whales of More Mesa. The bright sun and clear blue water, set against the Santa Barbara coastline made for some fantastic sightings. About 500 common #dolphins were meandering around the zone but most of them found time to come over to the boat and make introductions. Before long it was time to head back home, so we turned east in that direction. While motoring along in the glassy smooth water, I caught a glimpse of a breaching gray whale in the distance. We got turned in that direction and the whale breached 5 or 6 more times. It was a pair of gray whales, but only one of them breached. Even after we left the scene because we were running late, it continued to breach far behind our wake. It doesn’t get any better than this.
The 3 pm trip found the Condor heading southeast to the humpback whale grounds again. A trio of whales plus a single (“Top Notch”) provided great looks. All of the humpbacks continually fluked up. Even more common dolphins, perhaps 2,000, were seen on the feeding grounds with the sea lions and birds. Several enormous hot spots joined all the species together at a common dining table. An end to an “epic” day.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express
It may be Monday before I get all these photographs posted to the web.