Lots of humpbacks, grays, dolphins and a bigtime mugging by 2 of the humpies

2022 04-02 SB Coast

Three trips explored the nearshore Santa Barbara waters today, 9a, 12n, and 3p. Although it was overcast and cool until 1pm, it was never foggy. There was a light wind with a moderate westerly swell. Sightings were fantastic: 7 humpback whales, 1100 long-beaked common dolphins, 6 gray whales and 1 ocean sunfish (Mola mola).

The morning adventure started off with a great look at a small ocean sunfish (Mola mola). It remained on the surface as the Condor Express slowly circled, and did not dive. A while later, a compact herd of dolphins came by and rode our bow, side and stern waves. The pod took off on a stampede run at one point, into the wind and across the swells. Breathtaking. The morning reached a crescendo right after the dolphin experience when we closely watched a pair of humpback whales about 4 miles south of Platform Holly. After a few moments of general whale watching, which, in retrospect, was probably a short “getting comfortable” period, the pair came over and mugged the boat. One of them roamed back and forth directly under the boat and became and “equal opportunity” whale allowing fans on boat sides to enjoy its presence. Meanwhile the other whale spent a lot of time enjoying the streams of water put out by our four jets. (Hypothesis: was it rinsing its baleen?) Quite a few whale watchers continually moved from port to starboard and back again as the first whale directed their dance. Most of the time we had one or both of them whales within inches of our hull, and only a few feet from adoring human eyes.

On the noon adventure, about 2 miles off The Mesa, a pair of spouts turned out to be our pal “Snowflake,” and his buddy. We’ve seen these two for the past few days and it’s always fun. Lots of tail flukes! Hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it! Later, 4 miles off Hope Ranch, we found another large herd of dolphins with similar behaviors as the morning encounter.

The afternoon trip almost immediately found a small (100+) pod of dolphins just 3 miles out of the harbor entrance. Great looks were had by all as these agile little cetaceans rode our wake and went eye-to-eye with us. Two tall humpback spouts were seen in the distance and Captain Devin (aka “Osprey Eyes”) turned the Condor Express in that direction. But, almost immediately, our journey to the humpbacks was interrupted by the sudden arrival of 6 gray whales. These were all large, adult gray whales and were on a line to the west (which is heading to Alaska in our part of the coastal waters). Two of them broke ranks and made a very close approach. After a nice visit we went back to the humpbacks. You guessed it…it was Snowflake and pal again. In addition to the great tail flukes, the pair made a very close swim-by off our bow. Close to home, on our way back to the harbor, we picked up a balloon and watched one more, solo, humpback.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com

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