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Humpback Kelping

2016 04-11 SB Channel

Only one excursion left the docks today (at noon) but it was epic.  Captain Eric, along with his “eyes and ears” Auggie, found a mother lode of humpback whales and some Minke whales in the Flats midriff region.  It was mill pond mirror glass conditions all day.  The sun was warm and bright.  The underwater visibility was good.  Humpback kelping was the highlight of the marine mammal story:

12 noon We cleared the outer sea buoy from Santa Barbara at 1215 pm and set a course for the south side of the rig line, and then onward to the Flats.  Around 1245 pm we intersected two Minke whales SE of Hillhouse swimming fairly close to each other.  One of them swam directly under the Condor Express and about 15 feet down.  Whale watchers could clearly see this beast passing by.  There were several other really good looks of these wonderful Minke whales on the mirror glass surface.

From 1255 pm to 140 pm we were in the midst of a lot of humpback whales east of Hillhouse, and at least 4 were closely watched.  Many more spouts and tail flukes were seen in all directions.  Two more Minke whales were also working the zone, and a mob of California sea lions split up so a few of these brown furry mammals would be available to pester each of the humpback whales.  They are equal opportunity marine mammals.

Humpback whales are certainly NOT vegetarians, but they do like to play with the veggies now and then.  An interesting communal humpback kelping event took place as we watched.  Captain Eric pointed out on the PA that there was an nice sized paddy of detached, free-floating giant kelp up ahead where one of the humpback whales seemed to be headed.  Both Captain Eric and Captain Dave (who took the day off) have proven to have WESP (Whale Extra-Sensory Perception), and, sure enough within seconds this first humpback began to put the kelp on its head, then on its back.  Within a minute or two, two of the other three humpback whales changed course and headed for the  first whale, still playing in the seaweed.  Before long, the single kelp paddy had been divided up and all three whales were indulging in some communal humpback kelping moments right before our eyes.

As time expired and we pulled away, two more humpback whales popped up to the surface SE of Hogan.  One was our pal Scarlet.

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

PS   I’ll try to post these photos on line by Friday of this week.

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