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The pristine western channel produced 4 marine mammal species and a fish.

2022 08-03 SB Channel – West

It was another sunny, calm day in the western Santa Barbara coastal waters. Winds were calm and the water clarity has improved. Sightings included: 2 humpback whales, 3000 long-beaked common dolphins, 60 California sea lions, 1 ocean sunfish (Mola mola) and a northern elephant seal. The crew retrieved several floating, deflated, Mylar balloons from the ocean surface. Egg yolk jellies were seen here and there.

Common dolphins followed the same general distribution pattern we’ve observed for the past couple of weeks. Small pods are first encountered close to the harbor, Hendry’s and Goleta Bay. Larger pods are found as we worked to the far west and moved offshore. There was a lot of surface feeding by dolphins going on today…viewing enhanced by the water clarity. As we passed by Holly we slowed to watch an ocean sunfish (Mola mola).

As we approached Hondo and Harmony we saw a large solo elephant seal head. It slowly descended into the depths as we approached.

North of the oil platforms we encountered a two individual humpback whales that worked together as a pair for a short while then went their separate ways. One was a large adult, and we ended up following it after the split-up. The other was a sub-adult but too large to be called a “calf.” When the two paired-up, they were surrounded by hundreds of dolphins, sea birds, and several mobs of California sea lions…all attracted to a ball of northern anchovies sub-surface.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com

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