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July 20, 2016 – Santa Barbara –

2016 07-20 SB Channel

California Whale Watching – you can never get enough!  It was windy from the get-go today, but it was a nice warm wind and there was not much swell so the ride was a good one.  The further we pushed offshore to the southwest, the stronger the winds were.  But as luck would have it, we encountered a honey hole full of whales and dolphins and had an epic adventure.  Totals for the day included 2,300+ common dolphins, 1 Minke whale (more in the area), 6 humpback whales (many more spouts in the zone), and several hundred California sea lions organized into a few nice mobs.  The bird of the trip was the elegant tern and was found on each of the many hot spots we visited.

Speaking of hot spots, the first one was about 1 mile southeast of Santa Barbara and was located immediately by our deckhand, Ojos de águila Auggie.  There was a confluence of brown pelicans, sooty shearwaters, gulls, and a large number of very vocal elegant terns.  All the birds were flying, crashing and diving on a medium-sized northern anchovy bait ball while common dolphins, and California sea lions were actively feeding.  At one point the school sought protection near the starboard pontoon with little luck. Almost an hour later and several miles to the west, another hot spot full of birds, dolphins, sea lions and about 4 Minke whales was located.  We closely watched only one of the Minke whales, as it turned out to be a very cooperative whale.  After a while the Minke got ahead of the Condor Express and lunge-fed on the surface.

Noon found us about 10 miles offshore and coming into the Land of the Humpback Whales.  Spouts began to come into view all around.  We settled-in and closely watched several humpbacks.  One, nicknamed “Speckles,” had been seen yesterday and several times in the past.  It is a juvenile-sized whale and its skin is full of little white spots.  Speckles engaged in several tail-throwing episodes today, mostly a quarter-mile or so away.  This hot spot expanded and moved around and we got better and better looks at the abundant feeding animals.

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

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