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Spy Hops, Rolls and a Stampede

2015 04-29 SB Coast

Captain Dave and Maestra Tasha handled the initial sightings that led to a fabulous excursion today as the Condor Express left from Santa Barbara Harbor at 12 noon. Eagle-eyed deckhand Tasha spied a large, 500+ member, pod of long-beaked common dolphins just outside the eastern boundary of the East Beach anchorage. The water was glassy and calm but there was a patch of coffee colored red tide in this zone. The water color did not detract from the excellent sightings of these little cetaceans provided by Captain Dave’s masterful handling of the boat. Key to this #dolphin interaction was a behavior that took everyone by surprise and was amazing to witness. After a decent amount of time spent watching the usual bow and wake-riding, all of a sudden the whole pod “stampeded” full -throttle to the west.   This high speed mass migration included spectacular leaps over the on-coming swells, and all sorts of white water being churned up behind the pod. The students (future cetologists) from Village School in Pacific Palisades screamed with delight (as did many of their parents). It made your heart thump.

After 45 minutes or so with our dolphin encounter we reluctantly broke off and moved close to the edge of the kelp forest in shallow water near the Santa Barbara Light tower. Here we found, at first, a gray whale mother with her calf migrating at a leisurely pace. Not far ahead we soon discovered a second gray whale cow-calf pair. The two pairs quickly joined up and a nearly 30-minute play session ensued.   There was plenty of rolling around by the #whale calves.   Numerous bubble blasts were observed inside and outside the breakers. The show stoppers were the 3 or 4 spy hops, one of which featured a whale at least half way out of the water….all this relatively close to the beach and sea cliffs. As if that was not enough, a third mother-calf pair of gray whales appeared near the end of our whale session. At one point the Condor Express was “pinned in” by whales shoreward as well as seaward.   But that’s the kind of problem we don’t mind having on such a magnificent day along the Santa Barbara coast.

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

I’ll post up these photos in the coming days….I’m buried in high res RAW files…poor me !

Space still available:   May 17 all-day pelagic trip. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see whales, fish and pelagic birds perhaps as far offshore as 100 miles or more (if conditions permit).   Call   888-77WHALE to reserve your spots.

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