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Killer whales lead the list of 6 different marine mammal species today.

Three killer whales from a group of five. Photo: Robert Perry

Killer whales lead the list of 6 different marine mammal species today.

According to Bigg’s killer whales were formerly known as ‘transients’. In 2012, a push was made to rename this type of killer whale in memory of Dr. Michael Bigg (1939–1990). Bigg’s killer whales range all along the west coast of North America, from California to Alaska. They are mammal-eaters, specializing on smaller marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, and occasional calves or juveniles of larger species such as grey whales and humpback whales. In fact, the term “killer whale” is derived from this type of killer whale, which is the only species of whale that kills other whales. Today we started out heading southwest towards Carrington Point on Santa Rosa Island because our friend Dane had called to report 4 killer whales in the area. En route we played with at least 1,000 common dolphins that were all spread out feeding on the abundant anchovy schools. Later on and further south, we saw multiple spouts on the north face of Santa Cruz Island, and upon investigating, we discovered a separate group of 5 killer whales. (Later our friend Mat would text us that there was another, third group along the coast, west of Santa Barbara. We closely watched our 5 killer whale for almost 2 hours. The group consisted of at least one male, a big one, and a mother with a very small calf. There were two other whales, probably females, although one may have been a sub-adult male…the photos will tell more after I process them all. Moving on, we also saw about 30 Risso’s dolphins in two groups near the Santa Cruz Channel, as well as 5 gray whales, 100 or more sea lions, and on the way home, near mid-Channel about 20 Dall’s porpoise. Again we found mirror glass ocean conditions with warm sun behind thin high clouds today. The whale watching weather is supposed to continue for the foreseeable future.

Sunday’s trip is a private charter, but Saturday, Monday, Tuesday are all open. Hope to see you on board. Happy New Year! (I’ll post up the photos sometime early next week)

Bob Perry Condor Express

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