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Lots of whales including an aggressive socialization event

2021 10-27 SB Channel

A moderate swell from northern storms subsided as the day progressed. Skies were clear, blue and sunny with little to no wind. Sightings today included closely watching 14+ humpback whales, 3000 long-beaked common dolphins and 250 California sea lions.

“Chompers,” the humpback female (named after the fact she was one of the first whales to exhibit the novel surface chomping behavior), was encountered with her little calf of the season just 3½ miles out from Santa Barbara. The pair were watched for a while, mostly seen logging on the surface together with only a few, very short dives. The area was soon visited by another, single, adult.

Continuing south another 3 miles, we found an area flush with about 1000 dolphins and lots of seabirds. Here we watched two trios separated by a mile or so of water and had good looks at all of them.

The final hotspot was in the Separation Zone (between northbound and southbound commercial vessel traffic lanes) where a group of 5 whales (with more spouts in the area) were closely observed for nearly an hour. The group included two, large males and the whole scene was active and tense. There was lots of high speed chasing, plenty of chin-slapping, vocalizing (mostly trumpet blows) and what we theorized was pre-courtship socialization behavior. The group kept close to the Condor Express and circled around us, limiting our movement (for whale safety). It was a phenomenal event to witness.

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

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