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Six Gray Whales and More

2016 01-22 SB Channel

Captain Eric steered a course for the west end of Santa Cruz Island, a southwesterly heading from Santa Barbara. Not far off shore, our deck hand, ojo de águila Auggie, found a widespread area with little batches of long-beaked common dolphins, and they took turns coming over to the Condor Express. There were a few little calves in the mix and the water has regained a little bit of clarity which is fun because you can see what the little cetaceans are doing down there.

While dolphin-watching, ojo de águila located a spout not too far east of our position. After a 5 min slow approach, it turned out to be not one but two full-grown humpback whales.   They had good surface times for good looks, but rather long 10-12 minute down times. We continued towards the west end.

Throughout the Channel there had been a mixture of both low and high clouds with no wind. By the time we made our approach to Santa Cruz Island, the low clouds had burned off and the high clouds were letting some warm but filtered sunlight through. We continued into the Santa Cruz Channel between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands, where we escaped the swell. The swell was increasing all day with 8 – 10 foot long-period rollers coming down the Channel from the west. This had little or no effect on our comfort because of the complete lack of wind.

Not long after reaching the mouth of the Santa Cruz Channel, Eric had spotted spouts to the southwest and Auggie had more spouts to the south. We got set up on a traveling group of 3 gray whales which had short down times and long surface times. I always love to see these southbound migrating gray whales in the Santa Cruz Channel because the islands make spectacular backdrops for my photographs. Both islands are just now beginning to show a slight green patina from what little rainfall we’ve had up to now. There was another gray whale a couple of hundred yards ahead of us with Gull Island in the background.

After a very nice session with these gray whales we started back on track towards Santa Barbara, passing along the northern, volcanic, face of Santa Cruz Island long enough for Eric and I to give a brief introduction to this spectacular place. Our dialogue was interrupted twice as we found two additional, single, gray whales.

We also saw a small shark finning on the surface mid-Channel but could not get set up on it before it sounded.

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

PS   Use coupon code 11916 when you make your reservations by January 31st and receive a 25% discount.   There is more information on our FaceBook page.

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