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Stepping-Stones of Life – Santa Barbara –

Sea conditions included very little wind and a glassy ocean surface.  If I had to find something small to balance out against all that positive stuff, it was the smoke from the very distant Santa Clarita area fire which somehow got circulated into Santa Barbara and made the sky brown in spots without apparent health concerns.  Trip sightings included stepping stones or small hot spots with 4 humpback whales, 1 Minke whale, at least 700 or so long-beaked common dolphins and 2 special ocean sunfish (Mola mola).

Captain Dave steered a course more west than southwest and did not find much life until the Condor Express was south of Holly.  The first two sightings were both Mola mola, one was huge and the other was medium-sized but breached right in front of everyone.  I’ve been trying to photograph a breaching Mola for decades but sadly did not capture this one today.  This kind of experience keeps me sharp.

As it has been all week, the area was full of dispersed stepping-stones or small hot spots of sea birds, sea lions along with the cetaceans all feeding on correspondingly small patches of northern anchovies.  Feeding by the humpbacks was sub-surface and deep enough for frequent tail fluking to be observed.  As the bait balls moved, so did the aggregation of life. A semi-friendly Minke whale appeared in close proximity to us several times.  By the end of the trip everyone on board had some amazing looks at the marine life in action.

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

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