It was a gorgeous, flat, calm sunny day for our cruise ship whale watchers. And, boy, did we every have some nice wildlife today on top of the great oceanography. Captain Dave reports 300 short-beaked common dolphins, 3 humpback whales (see notes below), 700 long-beaked common dolphins and at least 1,500 California sea lions arranged in mega-mobs.
The first dolphins did not find us until we had just crossed over to the south side of The Lanes. It was a herd of at least 300 highly animated short-beaked common dolphins. Great looks were had by all humans and dolphins.
A mile or two north of the world famous Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island the mega-mobs of California sea lions visited the Condor Express. We closely watched 5 groups of 300 – 500 individuals, but additional mega-mobs could be seen in the near distance. It has been about a month now that these wonderful sea lion aggregations have been near Santa Cruz Island. The last time I personally saw these masses and photographed them was in 2008. You can check my MarineBioPhotography.com site if you want to see the older shots.
This area was also rich with long-beaked common dolphins and loads of active sea birds. Before long, several humpback whales, perhaps as many as 5, surface in the zone. Only one of the whales showed interest in its fans on the boat, and the rest had very long down times…maybe they were hungrier than the first whale. After the good humpback sighting Captain Dave ran the boat into the mouth of the Painted Cave and gave his now famous monologue on the Cave and bits of island lore.
East of the Cave two more whales came to the Condor. The first one surface directly under the bow and took everyone by surprise. Soon a second whale joined the friendly approach and mugging process. Occasionally the whales retreated only to reappear and continue bonding with everyone. There was lots of joy all around.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express