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Scientist John Calambokidis

2016 07- 16 SB Channel A special day with great sea conditions, excellent cetacean sightings and a special visit from scientist John Calambokidis from Cascadia Research.  Sightings for the day included 2 Minke whales, 4 humpback whales (more in the distance), 2 giant blue whales and at least 2,000 long-beaked common dolphins.  Here is the story: Three miles out of Santa Barbara harbor Captain Dave encountered two separate Minke whales.  One was elusive and the other a bit more friendly.  It’s been a few weeks since our last Minke sighting, so there was excitement in the air already and we’d hardly been running 30 minutes.  Dave continued to push to the southwest. Around 8 miles out, not far off The 50,  a wide area full of oceanic hot spots was spotted.  There was lots of activity from common dolphins, California sea lions, shearwaters, gulls, terns, pelicans and at least 4 big humpback whales.  It appeared as if there were anchovy schools below the surface, but not too deep, so even the birds were very animated.  It is always great to see the raw food chain up close and personal.  Dave continued his course heading to the southwest corner of the Santa Barbara Channel. We have known for a few days that two groups of cetacean scientists have been collecting data in the southwest corner of the Channel including Ladd Irvine and others from the Hatfield Marine Science Center of Oregon State University aboard their research ship “Pacific Storm,” and another group led by John Calambokidis, working off two rigid inflatible boats (RIBs).  So it was no surprise when our Captain Dave located two giant blue whales near Santa Rosa Island.  One of the two regularly fluked-up, and the other had a suction-cup instrument package attached to its flanks (from John). While we were enjoying the giant whales, John Calambokidis drove one of his RIBs over and paid a visit to the Condor Express.  He took time out from his research to explain his purpose for being in the Channel and showed everyone his harmless suction-cup instrument array that his team attaches to blue whales, fin whales and others.  In one project, John’s team is studying the reaction of the great whales to ship noise, the kind regularly produced in the nearby Lanes.  It was a special treat and we thank John for his presentation.  A nice photo of John in his RIB next to the Condor Express is shown above and was taken by passenger Cassandra Fildey. You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express

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