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Stunning Views of Mother and Calf Humpbacks in Clear Water

2015 SB Channel – ACS

When you see the numbers of cetaceans sighted today, please remember that this was an 8-hour trip, almost double our typical 4.5-hour public whale watch. We charter-out the Condor Express about twice a year to the American Cetacean Society and its Los Angeles Chapter. They generally bring lots of good luck with them on their excursions.

It was a bright and sunny day, all day long, without even a hint of the fog monster. The sea surface had a moderate chop on it from high winds to the far west of the Santa Barbara Channel. The wind held off until 100 pm, and the water color was Santa Barbara cobalt out where the cetaceans were found.

Captain Dave wanted to run as far to the west Channel as he could, but this idea was soon thwarted by the seas AND by the spouts that our deck hand, Eagle-Eyed Augie, found right off the get go. Near these first humpback whales we also found one of a dozen or more oceanic hot spots full of seabirds, California sea lions and long-beaked common dolphins all working on various shapes and sizes of northern anchovy bait balls.   One of the bait balls moved over, then under, the Condor Express trying to escape all the predators.

By the end of the trip we had watched over 25 different humpback whales with many more in the periphery. These knobby-headed beasts ran down the complete list of behaviors in their repertoire including dozens of single, random and totally unexpected  full-body breaches…some near, some far. Other activities included a few pectoral fin slaps by one young breacher, some chin-lifts, various horizontal surface lunge feeding episodes, and some purposeful tail throws by two of the whales.   Finally, there were numerous very close approaches to the Condor Express by these humpback whales.   Some were bow-crossings, others were fly-by’s down one side or the other. There were stunning views of a mother and calf humpbacks in clear water.

We also had nice sightings on two Minke whales. The first was the better quality sighting as the whale ran alongside the boat, just under the surface of the water, and did 4 or 5 breaths in its cycle before sounding. Of course the crystal water clarity made it even more special.

We were surrounded my long-beaked common dolphins all day long in pods of a few dozen to a few hundred. By the end of the trip there was a consensus among the elders that we watched at least 2,500 during the trip.

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

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