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Scorecard: Gray whales 6, Humpback whales 2

2016 03-01 SB Channel

The fog lifted a bit and it was both clearer and warmer than yesterday’s fog dance. Captain Dave, with his “Ojos y oídos ,” Auggie, located a total of 6 gray whales and 2 humpback whales on this excursion.   Here are the details:

12 noon We located our first 3 gray whales just a few miles south of Santa Barbara Harbor. Right away one of the trio when through a breaching spell, perhaps a dozen or so aerial events. Suddenly everyone knew this was going to be a great day on the Channel.

Editorial comment: I am saddened when I hear people say “scientists do not know why whales breach.” Of course scientists know why they breach: 1- making themselves known to other nearby whales-greeting communication, 2- aggressive display-warning, 3-removal of external parasites, 4-feeling the wind on their skin, 5-pent up exuberance – joie de vivre, 6-exercise – stretching, 7-a recent paper showed that young humpback whales breach to build up their muscle myoglobin which will hold oxygen and permit longer dive times, and other good reasons too. Perhaps a better thing to say about our current knowledge of breaching behavior would be “there are lots of theories about why whales breach, but I don’t know why this one particular whale just breached.” Whew. I feel better having said that !

Around 1pm a pair of humpback whales were spotted not far from our northbound migrating gray whales. They had dive times that were mostly short, with a couple of longer dives mixed in. They were regular in their fluking-up which is always nice to see. Soon a third gray whale passed by the humpbacks and the Condor Express en route north.

I was time to head back to the harbor but not long after Dave increased the RPMs and set his course, we came up on two more gray whales. This pair consisted of juvenile (small) whales and they did not spout…they were snorkelers. Since they popped up close to the boat, their lack of spouting did not deter getting wonderful looks at them.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express

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