Tuesday, August 16, 2016 – A light breeze with a heavy chop on the water soon increased to a bit more than a breeze and a wilder ride to the west-central region of the Santa Barbara Channel. When the winds picked up the stratus blew away, as it usually does, so we had a mostly sunny excursion. Captain Dave reduced his speed and aimed the Condor Express at the flat spots to make the ride more comfortable. Our total sightings included a pair of Minke whales, at least 1,200 long-beaked common dolphins, and several hundred California sea lions.
The first feeding hot spot was on the 50-fathom curve just off Campus Point. Here we found a bunch of very vocal, feeding elegant terns, loads of shearwaters, about 800 dolphins, many dozens of sea lions, and the whales. Our whales were a pair of Minke whales that came up to the boat, side by side, and swam along with us for a while before they split. All the northern anchovies that attracted the smaller animals also enticed these elusive whales. It was one of our better Minke sightings in quite a while.
Dave continued to negotiate the swells and moved west along the 50. About an hour later we encountered about 100 dolphins moving south at a very high speed. It was a synchronized swimming event as groups of 10 or 20 animals at a time got airborne off the tops of the larger waves. At this point we had moved west beyond the Elwood Bluffs. The winds continued to increase, so at this point Dave turned around and we rode down swell for a calm ride for the rest of the trip.
Our final encounter included several hundred more dolphins and another hundred sea lions feeding on yet another patch of bait.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express