2015 09-24 SB Channel
Orcas came out of nowhere
What a fantastic day we had out in the western region of the Santa Barbara Channel today. Sea conditions were glassy smooth all day long. Skies were sunny (and a bit hot). The great underwater visibility with our Santa Barbara cobalt color was still there. And then there were the marine mammals.
Our first stop, around 1030 am, brought us great looks at about 250 long-beaked common dolphins (we ended up the day with 800). There were a few calves and a lot of feeding going on. There were surface boils from the bait fish being attacked here and there. We were heading to the west and taking full advantage of the flat calm sea conditions. A very small but friendly Minke whale paid us a visit and everyone got good looks. (We ended up with 3 Minke whales today).
About an hour later we encountered another 100 or so long-beaked common dolphins. And 10 minutes after that our keen-eyed deckhand Auggie found a very large productive region. We were at least 8 miles off the beach and west of the Bacara. This spot produced 8 humpback whales, another 50 dolphins, and one more Minke whale. Several of the humpbacks took full advantage of the water clarity to come over and get some good looks at the humans on the Condor Express.
We were slowly moving around from humpback to humpback as they meandered to the east, when 5 Orcas came out of nowhere. Captain Dave saw them first and he was down on the main deck and looking aft at the time. The pod had one large male, one smaller male and we all think we saw 3 females. There were two nice surface sightings with very long down times in between. On their third dive they stayed down over 15 minutes and we never saw them again. All eyes (and binoculars) were on the water, but we do not know where they went.
On our way home and just a half-mile south of Holly we had another humpback whale (number nine), another Minke, and at least 500 or so additional dolphins. The dolphins were slow and easy thus we doubt the Orcas came east. It is always fun to see Orcas, even briefly.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express