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Tons of gray whales and more

2016 03-04 SB Channel

Captain Dave, along with Captain Eric and soon-to-be fully certified, Captain Tasha sailed out of Santa Barbara Harbor on to a grey ocean due to mostly cloudy skies. There was a small swell beginning to build from the west, but the surface started with a small chop and turned almost glassy by the time we got back. There were two excursions today and here are the details:

12 noon Two groups of two gray whales (total = 4) were quickly located not too far offshore. Additional spouts were seen in the area as well. These gray whales were all about the business of keeping themselves moving to their feeding grounds in Alaska. Down times were short, but so were surface times. Nonetheless, good looks were had by all.

After leaving these two pairs of gray whale we next met up with a medium small pod of about 50 long-beaked common dolphins. This may have been a nursery pod and there was quite a range of little calf sizes from a fully-inflated (not NFL Patriots) football up to calves that were almost half the length of their mothers. The (non NFL) dolphin fans on board were among the thrilled.

Soon we moved east to have the last sighting of the trip. One westbound humpback whale with 12-minute down times was sighted. We followed along for a couple of cycles until it was time to make a dash home to Santa Barbara. The tail flukes of this lone humpback whale was gnarly, as you can see from the photograph above.

3 pm On the afternoon excursion we watched 8 gray whales with more in the area, as well as 50 long-beaked common dolphins. Here are some details:

One shy gray whale was located close to the green harbor entrance buoy, but was hard to follow. Sometimes when gray whales get that close to the harbor entrance they have long down times…who can blame them?

About a mile or so southwest of the harbor we located several groups of gray whales…perhaps 3 pods, possibly more. One of the groups was especially fun to watch so we stayed with it. There were 4 gray whales in the pod and there was a lot of rolling around, chasing, and other socialization, or potentially courtship, behaviors. Our final sighting on the way home was a pod of 50 common dolphins that rode our wake. Weather and sea conditions held up nicely and it was a great trip all the way around.

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

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