We ran both a 9am and a 12 noon trip again today with overcast skies that actually produced some drops of rain here and there that you could feel, albeit one at a time, on the afternoon adventure. The gray skies made the ocean surface gray and that made it tough for the crew to spot gray whales. Nonetheless we had some great success stories today.
On the 9am expedition we ran west up the coast and along the way we watched 7 gray whales. Two of the gray #whales were a bit shy, but the remaining 5 were bold and friendly. We had great looks. On this trip we also ran through pods of long-beaked common dolphins, perhaps 1,000 for the trip.
The noon showdown took to the west for a short and sweet look at a shy gray whale. We then changed course for the eastern Santa Barbara coast and did not find any more gray whales. It was raining now, or should I say “sprinkling.” Finding little to watch along the coastal corridor, we turned south and headed for the deeper whale superhighway. Before long a sharp-eyed passenger said he saw a large dark whale breaching in the distance out near Platform Henry. Lo and behold upon arriving on the scene we found a huge humpback whale. The beast was fluking up and taking what appeared to be deeper dives on a layer of bait fish (northern anchovies) down there somewhere. There were a couple of dense hot spots of seabirds (black-vented shearwaters, common murres, Heermann’s gulls) sitting on the water waiting to pick off the scraps when the humpback surfaced with a few anchovies still stuck in its baleen. At one point the birds got active and did a lot of diving. Brown pelicans joined in. We figured the bait ball had risen upwards in the water column. The humpback whale came up in the midst. It took a breath or two then lowered its head and front half, only to rise up again with its mouth open wide, exposing baleen to the world, and gobbled down some surface fish. A few minutes later it came up and opened its mouth, chomped at the air a couple of times, and seemed to “rinse” its baleen. The birds loved it.
It was quite a show. All on a dark gray day with moderate to light sprinkles.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express
I’ll post up the photos by 6am on Thursday