Image: A look at “Chompers” with her calf in 2021.
2023 05-28 SB Channel
It was gray all day but there was no wind and the seas were calm. Sightings included 15 ocean sunfish (Mola mola), 500 long-beaked common dolphins, 30 offshore bottlenose dolphins, and 2 humpback whales. Captain Dave and his crew ran about 4 miles offshore then headed to the far west.
Our first 2 giant ocean sunfish (Mola mola) were doing what all 15 sunfish seen today were doing: gorging themselves on purple sailor jellies (Velella velella). The remaining individuals were scattered throughout the trip. On this first station we also interacted with two pods of common dolphin.
Off Hope Ranch we watched a pair of humpback whales. One let loose a monster breach before the pair went about milling on the surface.
Southeast of Platform Holly, we found one of old friends, the humpback “Chompers.” According to HappyWhale.com, “Chompers earned her name from an unusual habit of chomping her jaws when feeding. She's known to Cascadia Research Collective scientists as CRC-10532 at least back to 1991 during the SPLASH project, and was documented with calf in 2004 and again in 2013-2014. Her 2013-2014 season calf, Black Rakes, has since been seen repeatedly since, in Southern California. Also mother of 2017-2018 calf and 2020-2021 calf.” The data shows Chompers has been recorded as far north as Port San Luis, CA and Cabo San Lucas, BCS to the south. It is always great to see our old pal in our neck of her range.
Far the west, off Naples Reef, a large pod of highly acrobatic offshore bottlenose dolphins located the Condor Express. Their aerial antics are always awesome.
On the way home we passed by Chompers again as well as an additional pod of common dolphins.
You never know what mother nature has in store.
Condor Express, and