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Humpbackfest south of The Lanes.

Image: A vertical lunge-feeding humpback whale in the Santa Barbara Channel

2023 09-22 SB Channel

A glass flat morning developed light ripples in the afternoon. Similarly, a high stratus layer became partly sunny. The first official day of Fall was also magnificent in terms of our sightings: 17+ humpback whales, 3000 long-beaked common dolphins and 250 California sea lions.

Two groups of dolphins with 200 and 400 members respectively attracted 2 individual humpback whales when we were 7 miles offshore and heading in the general direction of the west end of Santa Cruz Island. The whales were moving east and appeared to be foraging. We had good looks.

South of The Lanes we found large and widely scattered dolphin pods with seabirds and sea lions. Two additional, single whales were watched. One was a large adult and had a 2-minute down time. Lots of commotion was seen about a mile away.

In the nearby hot spot, we found thousands of dolphins and 10+ additional whales. The whales were spread out and feeding individually. As in a parade, they seemed to pass by the Condor Express one at a time…at one point.

On the way home we found 3 more whales that were engaged in vertical surface lunge-feeding (see today’s photo for an example). There was no group feeding or evidence (from our vantage point) of cooperative feeding. Instead, as with the earlier parade, they lunged one and a time, in sequence.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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