Loads of long-beaked common dolphins and much more.
2016 03-30 SB Channel
Three excursions left the dock today in search of wildlife in the Santa Barbara Channel. Captain Eric drove the boat and deckhand Auggie spotted most of the cetaceans that Eric didn’t see yet. They make a great team. Assistant Chef Steve worked the galley as only he can. Here is the story:
9 am By 920 we had cleared the cruise ship zone and we were watching a small, shy gray whale pretty close to Leadbetter beach. It was a snorkeler with long down times as so many of them have been this week. While we were getting some good looks at the juvenile by paying close attention to its footprints, a much large gray whale came up from behind us on the other side of the Condor Express and then passed us up. It was up a lot more than the smaller whale. About this time we got a call from our friend Sherry with news of humpback whales pretty far to the east of our location. Captain Eric doesn’t fool around and he throttled-up and within a short amount of time we found a wide area with a dispersed anchovy school being attacked by brown pelicans from the air and long-beaked common dolphins from below. Two nice humpback whales were also near this food source, but many more humpback whales were seen in the near distance. The ride home from east of Hogan was nice as the sea conditions and lack of wind made it a summer-like morning.
12 noon We immediately set a course for the Flats, past Hogan, to see if we could locate the humpback whales from the morning excursion. Along the way, about 45 minutes after clearing the harbor entrance buoys, we had a great encounter with at least 25 Pacific white-sided dolphins feeding on a mini hot spot with plenty of California sea lions to keep them company. The water was quite blue, almost cobalt, in spots so it was a great dolphin encounter. About 30 minutes later we did locate 2 humpback whales a few miles off The Rincon. They had long down times but did spend quality time on the surface and were close enough for everyone to enjoy them.
3 pm On the late afternoon trip we quickly located 2 very friendly inshore bottlenose dolphins, or should I say they quickly located us? There were more on the inside at Leadbetter, but our two were loads of fun. Soon we found another small, shy gray whale with long down times and we were patient, following it up past Hendry’s. About this time Auggie saw a big spout offshore and when we arrived on the scene it was a large humpback whale heading west. Despite long bottom times it had good surface showings and its fans on the boat were thrilled. Next up on the cetacean thrill list were two separate, large groups of long-beaked common dolphins, each group consisting of around 250 animals. This occurred near More Mesa. That was one humongous dolphin show for sure. The weather and sea conditions held up nicely all day long. Myself, I liked all the long-beaked common dolphins the best.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express