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Sea lions play a game during dinner…and more!

2017 09-18 SB Channel

Captain Eric reported closely watching:  *4 humpback whales, 500 long-beaked common dolphins, 1 Minke whale and 500 California sea lions.  Skies were mostly overcast, but the ocean was calm.  Additionally, Eric reports that the water clarity got even better today with that Santa Barbara cobalt color.  If you drew a straight line from UCSB Campus Point across the Santa Barbara Channel to the Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island, all the life seen today would have been on that imaginary line.

The fun started just a few miles offshore, on the 50-fathom line, where small pods of 25 – 30 dolphins began to locate the Condor Express as they were engaged in feeding.  Due to the very clear blue water, the dolphins could be seen chasing northern anchovies beneath the surface.  It was quite a show. Dozens of California sea lions were also active here.

About ½-hour later, our deckhand Steve spotted an active Minke whale.  The Minke was chasing the dolphins and no doubt feeding on the same anchovy schools.  During several of the chases the Minke whale came right alongside the boat so everyone got great looks at this small baleen whale in clear water. More sea lions were mixed in at this location too.

The humpback whales began to pop up among the dolphins as we passed near the NOAA mid-Channel (aka, East Channel) buoy.  Sea birds were also very abundant here with thousands of sooty shearwaters feeding along with the sea lions, whales and dolphins.  This activity continued as Eric took the boat on a southwesterly heading.  Eric admits there could have been *at least 9 humpback whales in the vicinity, but he only had enough time to closely watch 4 of them.

Continuing southwest more dolphins and more whales were observed.  Among the many hundreds of California sea lions seen throughout the day today, there was a small mob of 8 or 10 young males that had captured a dogfish shark.  They were “communally feeding” on this shark by, in succession, taking a bite, and tossing the animal in the air for the next sea lion. Most amazing.

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

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