Six different species of marine mammals today.

2021 12-17 SB Channel

After two days sitting safely at the dock as the wind and rain came through, our trip today was special. In addition to the nice, sunny weather and calm seas, we closely watched 6 different species of marine mammals. Sightings included: 50 Risso’s dolphins, 1 gray whale, 2 humpback whales, 300+ offshore bottlenose dolphins, 400 long-beaked common dolphins and 100 California sea lions.

A gray whale spouted just outside the harbor entrance, heading east (which is how whales get southbound in our area). We turned, followed from a safe distance and got one fleeting look before it sounded and was gone. A mile or less later on a southerly track we were located by a group of 100 actively feeding common dolphins and their seabird entourage.

Continuing south and eventually reaching beautiful Santa Cruz Island, a pod of Risso’s dolphins was watched mixed with common dolphins. Although we had rich green water on the coast, the dolphins were very visible near the island. After this encounter, Captain Dave headed west past Fraser Point and surveyed the area as far as Carrington Point, Santa Rosa Island, before turning north to head home.

Five miles later on this homeward path we came upon a hot spot filled with thousands of feeding seabirds, a hundred or so sea lions and at least 300 offshore bottlenose dolphins. The dolphins were boat friendly, acrobatic and demonstrated their aerial skills. Quite a few calves were in the pod.

As we crossed into The Lanes, still heading home, we were fortunate to find and watch 2 humpback whales. It was a mother (only recorded once prior to today) and her calf. We stayed with the pair for a while and had great looks.

More common dolphins were seen as we got closer to the mainland.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com

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