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Mega mob of sea lions

A windy day with bright sun and moderately bumpy seas for a run to Santa Cruz Island on Labor Day, September 5, 2016.  A mega mob of at least 800 California sea lions, 2 humpback whales and at least 550 long-beaked common dolphins made for an exciting day of mammal observations.

Captain Eric took a slow and bumpy course to the southwest, heading for some of the regular recent hot spots.  The 50 fathom curve, the East Channel Buoy, and The Lanes were all devoid of mammal biomass.  Consequently, Eric took advantage of his location and ran his guided tour of the western end of Santa Cruz Island and put the Condor Express into the mouth of the world-famous Painted Cave.  Somehow the surrounding cliffs protected the Cave from the otherwise rough seas and wind.

Upon departing the Cave and the Island, and not far away, a huge concentration of feeding mammals and sea birds swarmed around the boat.  Here is where almost all of the dolphins were feeding, both of the whales, and all of the mega mob of sea lions.  Thousands of shearwaters, terns, and a few gulls and pelicans, were working on a wide area of northern anchovies along with the mammals.  All of the mammals were close to the boat at one or more points during this sighting.  They had wonderful looks at the humans on the railings staring down at them from the boat.

The trip home was a bit less rough with seas on the port quarter, but no further mammal contact was had until we were just a few miles outside Santa Barbara Harbor.  Here a small group of 50 or so dolphins found us.

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

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