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Sea lion mobs serve as humpback whale sentinels; Gray whales, porpoise and more.

2021 04-07 SB CHANNEL

Three trips left the dock today, 9a, 12n and 3p. Skies were clear in the morning, got a bit overcast at noon, and cleared again as the wind finally showed up in the late afternoon. Seas were moderately choppy, from the west, all day. Sightings were good: 6 humpback whales, 2 gray whales, 3 Dall’s porpoise and at least 600 California sea lions.

On the morning run we aimed directly at the NOAA East Channel Buoy and found a large humpback about 10 miles offshore, associated with hundreds of California sea lions. All day long, each of our humpbacks was feeding with these furry pinnipeds. On the way back to the harbor we had a quick look at the living torpedoes we call Dall’s porpoise. Fat like pigs with black and white markings like tiny Orca, I always how they can swim so fast!

At noon we ran the coast and ended up west of Platform Holly where many hundreds of sea lions were cavorting on the surface. Quickly thereafter a single humpback, a small one, surfaced in their midst. On the way home, keen-eyed deckhand Devin spotted a breach in the distance. It turned out to be from one of a pair of gray whales. This was closer to shore and near Isla Vista. We had good looks.

The 3p adventure took the Condor Express out 6 miles where 2 large humpbacks and several hundred additional sea lions, were spotted. The whales were feeding right below the surface and we saw their ventral grooves expanded. On the way home we had fast looks at another pair of humpback whales.

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

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