2021 08-11 SB Channel
Skies were mostly cloudy with late-in-the-day patchy sun. On a few occasions the stratus was down to the deck and we ran on radar. Seas had a very light chop but no swell. Sightings included: 2 humpback whales, 3000 long-beaked common dolphins, 1 shortfin mako shark, 2000 short-beaked common dolphins, 1 ocean sunfish (Mola mola), and ½ California sea lion. The crew also retrieved 1 helium-depleted Mylar “Happy Birthday” balloon from the ocean surface where it would have deteriorated and potentially harmed marine life.
Long-beaked common dolphins first appeared around 11a and were around most of the day thereafter. A pod at 1125a was a nursery pod full of calves. Later in the trip, at 1p, a very active mega pod of short-beaked common dolphins found the Condor Express and I cannot count the number of chin-slaps, high-flying breaches, and tail-walks that occurred. Magnificent!
Shortly after the short-beaked common dolphin encounter we watched a travelling juvenile humpback whale. It only took a longer sounding dive once. Otherwise it “kept on truckin” to the northwest. Two mega pods of long-beaked common dolphins passed through the zone and we had wonderful looks.
Moments later I spotted a large ocean sunfish (Mola mola) that initially dove down 10 or 20 feet in the very clear water before making an encore visit to the surface. Always great to see these beasts.
Next up we could not help but look at a second dolphin because it threw its mighty tail just off the bow which “caught our attention!” It swam, threw its tail and repeated this pattern three times. It also came by the boat for two visits and surprisingly threw its tail during one of them.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com
Footnote: Okay, here’s the story. You are probably thinking that my report of “½ sea lion” was a typo. However, it was not. Around 1045a, a passenger pointed to an area behind the boat and we all thought it might be a couple of common dolphins. Arriving on the scene, we immediately saw a wounded sea lion swimming about on the surface with the posterior half of its body missing. (I will spare you the rest of the gory details but will mention that I will soon have photos on my personal website www.marinebiophotography.com and my colleague and drone pilot, Adam Ernster, should have video on his FaceBook and Instagram sometime soon.) Nearby was a nearly full grown 10ft shortfin mako shark. It swam tight circles close to the helpless sea lion. After short while we left the scene to look for whales and dolphins. The cycle of life.