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Moveable Feast


2015 05-13 SB Channel

Off we went across the Santa Barbara Channel to the northern waters of beautiful Santa Cruz Island (Island of the Holy Cross). There was not much wind until we got a bit past the commercial shipping lanes, and this was much calmer a ride than yesterday. It was partly cloudy and cooler, in advance of a late winter storm arriving tomorrow. Our trip totals were: 7 humpback whales, 2,500 long-beaked common dolphins and 2 Mola mola (ocean sunfish). Birds and sea lions were also abundant all day. Here are the details:

About 5 miles out from Santa Barbara en route to Santa Cruz Island Captain Dave spotted what looked at first like a floating white plastic bag.   It turned out to be a medium large, photogenic ocean sunfish or Mola mola.   Soon after the sunfish sighting we encountered about 25 long-beaked common dolphins heading west. They rode the bow for a while. We were on a mission to see bigger cetaceans.

Across the shipping lanes and heading approximately for Fry’s Harbor, the wind picked up to a nice steady breeze but the healthy swells we encountered yesterday had pretty well subsided today. Deck hand Tasha located an oceanic hot spot with at least 2,500 long-beaked common dolphins and some much taller spouts too.   Sea birds were just arriving on the scene, and it was good to be there as things gained momentum. We were a mile or so off the island and found a moveable hot spot. The dolphins and sea lions were on it, as were the elegant terns, various gull species, brown pelicans, sooty shearwaters and cormorants. The tall spouts of 4 humpback whales did their best to catch up. As this stream of moving biomass flowed west then east, it passed another medium large Mola. I wonder what it must be like to be leisurely floating on the sunny surface and have all this commotion race through your space and time continuum.

A fifth humpback made a very close approach, diving about 50 meters from the Condor Express. We then took a guided tour of the Santa Cruz Island north coast and found conditions next to the island to be calm and glassy. Dave revealed many interesting facts as we passed by his favorite coves.

Back on the hunt, on our way home, we located 2 more humpback whales with seabird sentinels.   One of them was logging on the surface, perhaps inspired by the Mola mola.

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

I’ll get my photographs from today posted asap.

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