OK, it’s Halloween and you deserve to be a little frightened. This is one scary marine mammal. EEEEEEeeeeeek!
Ooodles of Cetacea on a Silver Ocean
Light rain is in the forecast for midnight tonight and the clouds moved in making the sky and ocean a brilliant silvery color. There was a very light chop from the south east breeze, but otherwise it was flat calm and a wonderful day for spotting marine mammals. Captain Eric with his keen eyes worked alongside deckhand Augie who manned the binoculars. It was not long past the rig line that we came up on our first hot spot of the trip. Here we found many dozens of California sea lions, long beaked common dolphins, and at least 4 Minke whales all working on an anchovy school. One Minke #whale actually swam alongside the Condor Express for a while. Next we moved to another hot region east of Henry. Again the sea lions and #dolphins signaled that something might be going on below the surface. Before long we had not one, not two but at least 9 giant humpback whales in the vicinity. Deckhand Augie actually spotted this spot because of the repeated breaching by a small humpback whale. The small one turned out to be “Shorty” and this juvenile whale put on quite a show as its mother “Scarlet” went about her feeding activities. Shorty, on the other hand, alternated between series of pectoral fin slapping, tail throws and trying to find its mom Scarlet. Not to be out done, two other humpbacks, both adults, made a bee-line for the Condor, and passed under and around the boat giving us a thorough mugging to the delight of our many happy passengers.
The next phase of the trip took us over for a great visit to the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island. Here we found great shelter from the little southeast breeze and got a wonderful guided and narrated tour from Capt Eric. Finally it was time to head back towards Santa Barbara and we took off to the north. But wait! There’s more. Just past mid-Channel we encountered another hot spot with 4 or 5 more humpbacks. When the dust settled and we finally entered the safety of the Harbor, we figured the totals included 8 closely watched humpbacks and another 8 in the immediate vicinity. Add at least 1,000 long beaked common dolphins to the tally as well. Wow! What a day! Now the midnight rain can come and give us that whopping tenth of an inch that NWS promised.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express Biologist and Photographer
PS I’ll get the rest of the (non-scary) photos posted up to the web sometime tomorrow.