A very young humpback whale calf attempts a tail throw. photo: CondorExpressPhotos.com
Humpback Throngs Move Closer to Home !
We ran two full whale watch trips today, a public trip at 8am and a private trip at 1:00pm. Here are the results.
On the morning trip we left Santa Barbara Harbor with mirror glass sea conditions and a thick marine layer over head. About 15 minutes out the crew spotted bird and dolphin activity that would continue throughout the trip. Again we see a large number of huge northern anchovy schools in the water and the dolphins, sea lions and birds have them gathered up into balls. These bait balls were like stepping stones across the flat calm ocean in all directions. We knew all the signs were right for a humpback whale sighting and, sure enough, we soon were closely watching a mother-calf humpback pair. The young calf was particularly active as it swam close to its mother. It lifted its chin, rolled upside down. slapped its pectoral fins, threw its tail around a bit and even attempted a couple of half-hearted breaches. The high point of this encounter was when the pair surfaced within a few feet of our port side and slowly swam along with the Condor Express. Both whales had their entire bodies visible in the clear water. The overcast skies actually enhanced the experience as there was little or no glare making every tubercle on their rostrums come into sharp focus. Soon we were watching a second mother-calf humpback pair. This mother was HUGE, and her calf was not as animated as the original calf…at least at first. Before too long the 4 whales were in relative close proximity. It should be noted that the pectoral fin slapping and tail throwing from the original calf was followed, after a while, by similar behavior from its mother. The mother was completely upside down and seemed to be “giving a lesson” to junior as to how to slap a pectoral fin frontally then laterally so a big splash could be seen in both directions in her range of motion. A very large ocean sunfish (Mola mola) and several egg yolk or fried egg jellies (Phacellophora camtschatica) were also observed on the surface during this morning trip. I’ll have the photos from this adventure posted up sometime by Friday to www.CondorExpressPhotos.com So many common #dolphins were seen working dozens of hot spots, it would be silly for me to try and estimate their population size today….many many many thousands for sure.
A huge Mola mola made a leisurely swim alongside the Condor Express this morning. photo: CondorExpressPhotos.com
The afternoon adventure found a very light breeze with tiny chop on the surface as we ran further southeast to a “mother lode” of humpback whales. We closely watched 10 or 12 humpbacks on this trip, with lots of additional spouts seen all around the area. Again thousands of common dolphins had the anchovy schools corralled up tightly so the seabirds and sea lions joined the feeding frenzy. Several full body breaches happened close to the boat, and more rolling around, lob tailing, and pectoral fin slaps made the whole thing a heck of a lot of fun. We’re back on our typical 10am – 2:30pm schedule tomorrow and you absolutely MUST see this stuff for yourself.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express