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Marine Mammal Mega Day

2021 10-21 SB Channel

Humpback whale mega day.

Skies were sunny and bright except for a short zero visibility fog patch near The Buoy. Seas were moderate and the winds were light most of the time. Sightings included 19+ humpback whales, 3500 long-beaked common dolphins and 400 California sea lions.

We watched several small pods of dolphins as we neared the NOAA East Channel Buoy, but they disappeared quickly into a dense fog layer which severely restricted our visibility for a long 15 or 20 minute period. As the sun dissipated the ground stratus we found our first whales, a pair of humpbacks, southeast of The Buoy. They were friendly and made several close passes by the Condor Express.

The main event was in the separation zone between inbound and outbound commercial traffic from the ports of LA and Long Beach. Whales here were so abundant that Captain Dave pronounced today as one of the top three highest numbers of humpback whales seen this season. There were at least 35 whales and spouts over 3 or 4 miles which expanded, at times, into The Lanes (both directions).

At one point we hailed the Hyundai Paramount, a 255.4 x 37.43 m, 52467 gross tonnage container cargo vessel headed for Gwangyang, South Korea, which was outbound and passing through the SB Channel at 20 kts. The captain kindly gave a generous wide berth around the active humpback whale zone.

The primary focus of the whales was feeding and socializing. Feeding was subsurface on massive schools of northern anchovies. On the surface we watched several nice breaches, lots of lob tailing, chin slapping, vocalizations and very close visits to the boat. Dave mentioned that, at one point, he put the Condor in neutral as at least 12 humpbacks were right next to us. This kind of massive meet-and-greet between the two species does not happen too often. Wow!

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

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