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Lags, grays, commons….

2016 03-18 SB Channel

Captain Dave and his crew ran three 2½-hour excursions today.  Total cetacean sightings today included 8 gray whales, 106 Pacific white-sided dolphins, 275 long-beaked common dolphins and several packs of California sea lions.  Now for the juicy particulars:

9am As we left the harbor a thick stratus layer hung over the Santa Barbara Channel, call it May gray, June gloom or April whatever rhymes.  Fortunately the layer was up a few hundred feet off the deck and other than creating very flat lighting, it was not too much of a problem spotting cetal fauna.  Straight out from the entrance to Santa Barbara Harbor a few miles we encountered a nice sized herd of 50 or so Pacific white-sided dolphins (aka, Lags).  Moving west, near Goleta we found another group of 50 Lags.  Turning south, moving offshore, it was not long before we encountered about 200 common dolphins.  Finally, we had great looks, especially through the clear water, at a single gray whale.

12noon During the break between trips the stratus layer burned off and the rest of the day was sunny and bright.  As we departed the harbor we ran offshore a few miles then settled in behind a trio of westbound gray whales.  Two repeatedly made deeper, hard to follow, dives.  But the third whale was a shallow diver and made tracking the group easy.  Later a group of 75 common dolphins played in our wake and rode the bow.

3pm Three gray whales passed the mouth of Santa Barbara Harbor and had to dodge all the boat traffic.  They evaded most boats by altering their course to an offshore track, then settled back to their nearshore route once they rounded Santa Barbara Point.  Good looks were had by all.   Further to the west we found 6 very friendly boat-surfing Lags, that entertained their fans with their wave riding skills.  On the way home, another, smaller, gray whale was found near the harbor, but it was moving eastbound.  This whale did a lot of shy stuff like snorkeling as it seemed to move the “wrong direction” for this time of year.

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

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