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Humpbacks, Blues and a Fin.

2015 07-01 SB Channel

It was cloudy, warm and a bit humid today as the remnants of a tropical storm ran north into the Santa Barbara Channel. The sea conditions were spectacular though. (And tomorrow is supposed to be even better if you believe NOAA). Around 1030 am we found ourselves just a tad south of Charlie on the edge of what has been “the humpback whale zone” for the past couple of weeks. We patrolled this region for about an hour and racked-up a dozen close #whale sightings. Most of the beasts were diving and no doubt were feeding on anchovies beneath the surface somewhere. The shearwaters were interested (as they can dive deep too) but there were no surface-feeding birds like pelicans or terns in the area at all.

One humpback whale was particularly showy. It was a smaller whale and went on a pectoral fin slapping escapade. It slapped, then moved a few hundred yards west, then slapped again.   The thunder from the little guy’s slaps carried far across the Channel. At one point this same whale spotted some floating giant kelp debris on the surface and did a little “kelping.” About 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins were also feeding in the region.

We moved far to the southeast and by 1220 pm we were about 4 miles north of Anacapa Island watching larger #whales. It should be noted that just before getting into the LARGER whales, a single Risso’s dolphin passed in front of the Condor Express. Okay, so let’s chat about the LARGER whales that we watched. We closely watched two giant blue whales but there were at least three other tall spouts in the vicinity. One of the blue whales had a huge “dent” in its back that seemed to hump-up all the muscle, blubber and skin into a big mass. From a distance, even with binoculars, this injury looked somewhat like two blue whales swimming on top of each other.   Captain Dave hypothesized that it was some kind of internal disease. I was of a different opinion and attributed this dent to external forces.

Speaking of LARGE whales, we had some great encounters with a single whale that was only about 25 feet long, but will certainly qualify for LARGE when it grows up.   It was a very young fin whale. At one point it made a bee-line to the boat and made a fairly shallow dive under us such that we could lean over and look down at the bright white/blue color of its submerged body.   It was cool. In fact, Dave and I were surprised that nobody took a whelfie.

We left for home around 120 pm and en route passed back through the humpback zone where one breached close to the boat and another rode alongside for a while…adding 2 more humpbacks to the scorecard.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. It looks like the 4th of July weekend should be spectacular out here! Bob Perry Condor Express

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