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Lots of dolphins, lots of humpbacks, including a mother-calf in a kelping session.

Image: adult humpback whale upside down kelping

2023 05-14 SB Channel

A high stratus layer kept the sun from hitting the wildlife, but there was no wind or swell. Sightings included 9 humpback whales, 1000 long-beaked common dolphins and 100 California sea lions.

Galley person/deckhand/researcher, Samantha, spotted the first 3 whales of the trip. Whale #1 was 4 miles south of the harbor and it SWAM THROUGH THE NEW KELP FARM with all its marker buoys. Later, after moving further south to the NOAA East Channel Buoy, a pair of whales split up. One headed east, the other west. We followed the west bound individual.

Moving westerly through The Lanes, we spotted a single adult humpback with a bent-over dorsal fin. Then, moving southwest, we were south of The Lanes and off the west end of beautiful Santa Cruz Island. Here we watched a hot spot full of dolphins. Lots of action and friendly activities. One mile further west brought us up on a mob of nearly 100 sea lions, and, soon 2 more humpbacks surfaced. (Mobs of sea lions often “mark” submerged humpbacks and help us know where to expect them coming to the surface). The pair joined up with the dolphins. Nearby, a mother humpback with her calf made several close approaches and swam under the boat, before discovering a floating giant kelp paddy. The pair proceeded to spend 20 minutes kelping, including rolling in it, swimming upside down in it (see today’s photo), and having a family spa session.

On the way home we passed a final humpback, but did not stop.

You never know what mother nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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