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The March North Proceeds at Full Speed !

The March North Proceeds at Full Speed !

Captain Dave reports that all three whale watch trips today ran with sunny skies, little to no wind and flat calm seas.  It was a perfect first day of Spring in the Santa Barbara Channel.  A total of 11 gray whales, most all were juveniles, were closely observed today…3 on the 9am trip, 4 on the 12 noon excursion, and 4 more on the 3 pm cruise.  Most of these whales were very business like, moving at a steady pace to the west and showing us both good surface times and some nice tail flukes too.  All the whales were solo or with partners, but no large groups today.  At noon, a couple of these whales came alongside the Condor Express for a quick look-see.  But it was one of the 3pm whales that mystified us all.   It was migrating as is normal, but shifted into a bizarre surface behavior pattern as it moved along for about 100 yards.  It’s mouth was open and it was moving ahead slowly through several large detached and drifting giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) paddies…with a little opening and closing of the mouth.  Then, as abruptly as it started, the whale stopped this behavior and resumed its normal migratory repertoire.  Was is playing with the kelp?  Was it consuming mysiids or other crustaceans associated with a kelp paddy?  Was it flossing?  Strange stuff but equally awesome to witness in the wild.  Common dolphins were also abundant on the morning and noon trips;  500 were seen at 9am and 250 at noon.  A second strange ocean mystery today:  Captain Dave, a fully trained and certified master mammal rescue person with decades of experience with pinnipeds in Santa Barbara, came up on what at first appeared to be a large California sea lion tossing around a fish.  As he came a bit closer, the beast seemed to be EXTREMELY large, and it wa a bit shy around the boat.  Hypothesis:  although no good photos were taken, could this have been a Stellar ?  Again the wild ocean cannot be predicted.

We have all three trips running public whale watch trips tomorrow.C’mon out and join the fun….you never know what Mother Nature has in store! Bob Perry Condor Express

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