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Mola mola, sea lions, thousands of dolphins, a Minke, birdnados and great humpback behaviors

Image: A humpback kicks up its tail flukes and its body is seen underwater.

2023 07-20 SB Channel

There was spectacular water clarity again today, but morning fog, a leftover west bump and some wind mid-Channel kept everyone on their toes. Sightings all came during the second half of the expedition and were phenomenal: 1 Minke whale, 10 humpback whales, 5000+ long-beaked common dolphins, 250 California sea lions and 1 ocean sunfish (Mola mola). Captain Dave pointed out that there were many “birdnados” seen today.

Soon after clearing the breakwater, we found scattered small pods of dolphins. They became larger when we rounded the NOAA East Channel Buoy and headed northwest. Close to shore we stopped to watch a large ocean sunfish (Mola mola). As the dolphin herds increased in size and distribution, so did the mobs of sea lions that were chasing the same prey.

Northwest of The Buoy, and about ½ way through the trip, we watched a pair of humpbacks with the dolphins and sea lions. The were moving east. Six more were soon found in the area, watched closely and added to our tally. Among them was a particularly interesting individual with a pure white tail. It made a few very friendly passes (similar to our daily photograph), then, as we slowly moved away, it did a series of robust tail-throws.

On the way home we watched 2 more humpbacks and more dolphins. Finally, just off Hendry’s Beach, a semi-friendly Minke whale made a few close passes before heading offshore.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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