2020 09-26 SB Channel – All Day Trip
We spent the better part of a whole day, 8am to 4pm, exploring the Santa Barbara Channel, spending quality time with the cetaceans and pinnipeds. Closely watched wildlife included: 3 humpback whales, 2 giant blue whales, 4000 long-beaked common dolphins and plenty of California sea lions. There was a thick overhead stratus layer for the first hour or two, then the sky cleared to partly cloudy/partly sunny. There was a very light breeze and a generous ground swell from the west.
Dolphins: we started out interacting with small pods of common dolphins about 45 minutes out from the harbor. For the most part, there were continued pods ranging in size from 25 to 100 individuals. Around noon, just after our humpback encounter, the first megapod of nearly 2000 dolphins came through the zone, and two hours after that another 1000-strong mega pod was watched. There were very few lulls in the dolphin-watching part of the trip.
Our first two whales were a closely bonded pair that we first spotted around 1015am. We watched them for a long time because, during the encounter, the whales came so close to the Condor Express to qualify as a “mugging.” Getting mugged is one of the best possible scenarios one could possibly hope for during a whale watching trip. These two were exceedingly friendly. It was spine-tingling.
Near 1230pm, after moving a few miles east, and hoping the fog and overhead stratus would clear, a pair of giant blue whales was spotted. As we started the sighting, sure enough, the sun did come out. It shined so bright that we frequently saw that shimmering light blue iridescent look that blue whales show when they are traveling just beneath the waves. The pair had a regular 10 minute dive time with plenty of good surface intervals.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.
Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com