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Humpback whales, Minke whales, Risso’s dolphins, offshore bottlenose dolphins…Wow!

2021 06-01 SB Channel

Outstanding sea condition and knowledgeable crew with keen eyes resulted in very good marine mammal sightings in the Santa Barbara Channel. Closely watched animals included 6 humpback whales, 2 Minke whales, 100 offshore bottlenose dolphins, 35 Risso’s dolphins and 100 California sea lions. We had a high, thin stratus layer except at Santa Cruz Island where skies were sunny and bright.

About 4 miles southwest of the harbor, a single Minke whale with regular and predictable surfacing, provided excellent observations which were enhanced by the glassy surface. It was soon joined by a second Minke. This led us in the general direction of our first of two humpback whale encounters. We watched two large adults that spent much of their copious surface time logging and gently rolling around. It was fun to see this aspect of the humpback behavioral repertoire.

A marvelous tour of the world-famous Painted Cave on Santa Cruz, and a slow cruise along the sheer sea cliffs, led us to a nice pod of large Risso’s dolphins spread out over a hundred yards of ocean. Several came close to the Condor Express where the glassy surface and clear blue water helped make the moment magical.

Moving west and north of the Santa Cruz Channel (between the islands of Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa) 4 more humpback whales were located, comprised of two mother-calf pairs. One of the pairs was our old friend “Scarlet” and her young calf. Glad to know her ship-strike, deep prop wounds has not stopped her from reproducing.

On the way home, running at full speed, a large pod of offshore bottlenose dolphins gave chase. This involved a lot of leaping, high-flying and eventually, some really great bow riding.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com

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