Nine gray whales – some seen heading north and south.
A single young southbound gray whale breached three times to the amazement of everyone on board the Condor Express today. We were not too far from Santa Barbara Harbor, and had just left a wonderful pod of about fifteen inshore bottlenose dolphins near the old Lighthouse. Breaching is not awfully common for gray whales, so this was a real treat for sure. Next, a little further out, but still very close to the mainland, we followed two more southbound gray whales…one was probably a yearling as judged by Captain Dave as he sized up the small whale. Soon thereafter the show continued with a fairly large area full of northern anchovy bait balls. Seabirds and approximately 600 or so long beaked common dolphins were seen gobbling down these small fish in crystal clear water.
Because this was our last southbound gray whale/Island trip for the season, we pressed on the the south, heading for Santa Cruz Island. But alas, as we neared the commercial shipping lanes the wind and seas kicked up and booted us off to more calm and comfortable waters…an Island trip just was not in the cards for us today. We steered a coarse for the 50-fm curve which is 8 or 10 miles off the mainland, and a fairly common place to locate northbound gray whales early in the northbound season. This strategy paid off right away as we located two different groups of three whales each…all heading back home to their Alaskan feeding grounds.
The lack of Island viewing did not seem to bother anyone on board as we were so immensely fortunate to have seen such an abundance and diversity of cetacean life in the Santa Barbara Channel today.
Tomorrow we start running our northbound coastal gray whale trips at 9am, 12 noon and at 3 pm. Three trips per day.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.. Bob Perry Condor Express