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Humpbacks Blowin’ in the Wind

2015 08-14 SB Channel

Keen-eyed Augie and master boat-handler Captain Dave turned a potential Mr. Toad’s wild ride into an epic humpback whale and dolphin adventure. Although it was sunny and bright, the crew suspected things down our way would be a bit bumpy as the West Santa Barbara Channel data buoy showed 29+ knots of wind and 6 foot waves at 6 second intervals. Leaving Santa Barbara Harbor the winds were light and variable, but that did not last long. However, as stated above, it pays to have a man with a decade or more experience at the helm, and Dave kept the boat on as calm a course as possible as we ran southwest to the area where all the action was yesterday.

Around 11 am everyone saw a large Minke whale cross our bow and head down the port side, riding the prevailing swells.   It was the only look we’d get at this species today. We did not have long to wait, however, until we were in the midst of at least 750 long-beaked common dolphins about 15 minutes after the Minke sighting. We were about 5 miles south of Hope Ranch at this point and spent some time enjoying all the surfing #dolphins, many with calves.

Just a short half-hour later Augie put us on to a single humpback whale with 500 more dolphins about 8 miles off Isla Vista. This was a hot spot with tons of feeding activity including the dolphins, sea lions, shearwaters, and a single, small Bat Ray just beneath the surface.   Dave let the Condor Express drift into the large ball of northern anchovies that all the animals were feeding on. Everyone had great looks at the hundreds of thousands of little silvery fish trying to duck under the boat for shelter.

Moving further offshore we first found a single humpback traveling east, then found a trio of humpbacks which included a mother and calf.   This threesome was accompanied by 50 or so additional dolphins. Overhead a pomarine jaeger was flying behind the elegant terns.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express

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