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Offshore bottlenose dolphins, white-sided dolphins and lots more gray whales.

2022 01-06 SB Channel

During the southbound gray whale migration, most of the population moves along the Santa Barbara Channel Islands. Some take a turn between the islands and continue southbound down the back sides, others prefer more of a straight line along the front sides. On several occasions over the years I’ve seen gray whales turn and start moving between the islands only to soon “change their minds” and return to heading southbound along the front side route. Today we ran the front side with great sightings. Totals for the trip included: 30 Pacific white-sided dolphins, 50 offshore bottlenose dolphins and 9 Pacific gray whales.

A tight group of 7 whales intercepted our route about 10 miles offshore and near the edge of The Lanes. As they mostly are this time of year, this group entirely consisted of adult whales. Many of the early January whales are pregnant females who will mostly give birth in one of 3 shallow Pacific Ocean lagoons along Baja California Sur. Today we saw great tail flukes during dives and a few instances of whales rolling around on the surface.

Captain Dave continued to steer the Condor Express towards the Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island. Soon we spotted the spouts of 2 additional gray whales. They were shy and we were not able to fully “set up” on them. Just outside the mouth of The Cave we watched a nice herd of offshore bottlenose dolphins. The pod had many calves and all were boat-friendly. Dave put the boat inside the first chamber of The Cave and gave a short narration.

Four miles from home a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins found us and we had wonderful looks.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com

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