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Loads of marine mammals today

Captain Dave and his crew took the mighty Condor Express across the Santa Barbara Channel to Santa Cruz Island and stopped for marine mammals coming and going. It was a glassy ocean surface with no wind and a west swell that did not show much except as it rolled up against the sea cliffs of the island.  Species totals today included about 700 long-beaked common dolphins, 12 Dall’s porpoise, 2 humpback whales and 200+ California sea lions.

The dolphins came to the boat in two waves, one at 2 miles out of the harbor and another about 4 miles out. The first group was large and dispersed while the second was tightly packed and smaller.  Both were great riding companions and everyone got great looks.

In The Lanes about a dozen porpoise rushed the boat and actually rode the bow and side wake-waves at times. These living bullets are hard to photograph but great to see as they slash the glassy surface and kick up a “rooster tail” of water.  They are very dramatic animals.

Next up on the sightings list our second Captain and deckhand Tasha located a very active humpback whale a few miles south of us using her binoculars and sharp eyes. The activity turned out to be a large humpback thrashing about in a decent sized detached giant kelp paddy.  It was waving its long pectoral fins, rolling upside down, and generally appeared to be in a kelp-induced “trance.”  Everyone calls this behavior “kelping,” and lots of different species do it.  Try it yourself next time you swim off the beach at Sands.

Dave gave his usual brilliant discourse regarding Santa Cruz Island as he navigated the sea cliffs and rolling surf.   No Painted Cave penetration was possible today as the surge from the waves had the whole place roiled into a mass of foam.  Outside The Cave we were greeted by a super-mob of at least 200 California sea lions, and what could be more fun than that!

East of The Cave, and on the first leg of our trip home, a second humpback was located. It was smaller than the kelping beast, but had short down times and good fluking for those iPhone whelfies. You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express

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