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Lots of humpbacks and literally countless dolphins

2020 10-11 Near Santa Cruz Channel

There was a massive humpback whale hot spot south of The Lanes and adjacent to Santa Cruz Channel today. Seas were glassy all day, but a medium-sized swell was rolling along near the islands. Sightings included the following closely watched cetaceans: 2000+ short-beaked common dolphins, 2000+ long-beaked common dolphins and 5+ humpback whales.

About 10 miles south of Santa Barbara harbor we began watching megapods of dolphins each numbering in the thousands of individuals. All were actively surface feeding surrounded by voracious sea birds. This continued into the humpback hot spot where all the animals were slaughtering the helpless northern anchovies. The dolphin masses were mixed, about half were short-beaked and the rest long. Captain Colton confesses he had no scientific way of estimating numbers today as the groups were so large and continuous.

Among the humpback whales we closely watched was an individual with ½ of its tail completely missing, apparently from an old entanglement…as deduced by the crew looking at its scar patterns. This is a working theory at the moment until the individual is entered into the database and its history is revealed. It was swimming and feeding with all the speed and gusto of the rest of the whole-tailed bunch. Passenger and avid whale photographer Mark O’Brien will surely post some of his images of this unique whale on his FaceBook page later.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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