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So Many Humpback Whales, So Little Time


2015 06-29-SB Channel

A trip out to see the blue whales was not to be as seas in the western zone of the Santa Barbara Channel were a bit rough. This zone travels with the prevailing winds to the front side of Santa Cruz Island where the giant blues have been feeding recently. However, nobody was particularly sad about not pounding across to blue-land given the fact that we closely watched 16 humpback whales with at least that many more all around us spouting freely into the breeze.   Our side of the Channel had medium chop in the morning and a light breeze. Both of these factors subsided as the day progressed. It was sunny and clear all day.

Our first encounter of the cetacean kind was about 8 miles south of Santa Barbara where our first cluster of 8 humpbacks were finding their food out of sight below the surface.   They fluked-up once in a while, and several made close visits to the Condor Express.   But the star of this first hot spot was a small #whale, probably a calf, that breached several times, did a few pectoral fin slaps, and really put on a wild show with its tail throwing.   Mom was not around. Was junior calling her with these loud demonstrations?   At least 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins were spread around this first region too.

On our way to the west chasing more hot spots and spouts, Captain Dave generously stopped on a large ocean sunfish (Mola mola) that was drifting along the port side within an arm’s length.   These fish are fascinating and we got a wonderful close look at it.

Moving further to a spot that stretch from More Mesa up past the University of California campus, and out about 5 miles, we found another hot spot and another 8 or so humpbacks.   This region was more dense with #dolphins, perhaps 2,500 chased bait fish with the whales here. As with the earlier spot, many more spouts were all around that we did not have time to pursue.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. The Channel is really full of cetaceans right now. C’mon out and see for yourself. Bob Perry Condor Express

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