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Humpback whales fest plus a special visitor from deep pelagic realms

Black-footed Albatross in the Santa Barbara Channel today

It was a bright sunny day with moderate seas and a fresh breeze as El Capitan Mat ran southwest towards the east end of Santa Rosa Island, but he never made it. No worries. Nothing happened to Mat, he just located one of the most massive oceanic hot spots full of life that we’ve seen all summer long. No lie, this feeding frenzy was at least 2 miles long and 1 mile wide when we first got there. Our first indication of this massive living explosion was an abundance of seabirds, mostly sooty shearwaters. I was personally enjoying the huge population of these visitors from New Zealand when Captain Mat started screaming “black footed albatross, black footed albatross !” And there, within a few dozen yards of the port side of the Condor Express was this giant seabird. Now the Condor Express has run lots of special deep water pelagic birding trips that end up nearly 100 miles offshore, and that’s where we see most of these albatross. But today we got lucky.

As we passed the big bird, which refused to take off and fly despite the nice breeze (perhaps stomach overloaded with anchovies), we saw giant splashes to the west…humpback were getting frisky. And that is what finally put us into the feeding frenzy hot spot. Here we saw no less than 10 humpback whales, and probably more if you count the distant spouts and splashes. A conservative estimate puts the common dolphin herd at 3,500 individuals, probably more…who can count this many? Something wieid: not many sea lions in the mix today. Thousands of actively feeding seabirds filled the sky as the dolphins and whales drained every bite of anchovy out of the region. It was an awesome time and place.

I’ll post up the photos sometime tomorrow

see you on board soon ! Bob Perry

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