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The mom-calf parade begins! …and humpbacks too.

Two public whale watching excursions left the docks today. Skies were clear all day and winds were negligible. However, as has been the case this week, it does blow hard in the Channel at night, so on the morning trips it has been a little bumpy until things calm down. The good news: the sightings are still phenomenal. Today we closely watched: 9 gray whales, 4 humpback whales, and at least 300 California sea lions.

Today the last phase of the northbound gray whale migration commenced. Just outside the harbor, as we left for our 9 AM excursion, we encountered two gray whale mothers with their calves. Moms and calves are last to leave the lagoons of Baja California and it is wonderful that they are beginning to pass by our shores now. The little calves tend to wander around as their moms follow. Additionally, there was a little bit of rolling around. We watched these 4 whales all the way up to Henry’s Beach. About a half a mile offshore we found and watched a single, large, adult humpback whale before heading back to the harbor.

With slightly calmer seas we worked along the coastline westward until we located 2 gray whale pairs near Goleta Bay. (These may have been the same 2 whales we saw on the morning run). The calves were very active. There was quite a bit of rolling around, spy hopping, tails in the air, and pectoral fins waving. Once in a while a calf climbed up on its mothers back. What fun! As the whales passed UCSB we turned offshore and, in the distance, there was a large breach, perhaps from a humpback whale We never found the animal. Soon we did find California sea lion mobs and, sure enough, a humpback whale did mix in with them. Behind the boat more sea lions resulted in two additional humpback whales. Of course the sea lions were not alone they had an entourage of highly active and hungry seabirds.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry Condor Express

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