A young humpback whale breached about 20 times today. Here is one of those times. Bob Perry CondorExpressPhotos.com
Too Many Humpback Whales to Count ?
Back we went today to the feeding grounds that have been going crazy these past several days on the north side of the Santa Barbara Channel. Things started slow with just a few small common dolphin schools, but ramped up and up and ended with a crescendo of marine life and activity. What a day! Let me set the stage by saying that there was little to no wind all day and a very small, intermittent swell from winds blowing far to the west. There was a marine layer up there and it dissipated in the afternoon to yield warm sun. As previously mentioned, there were common dolphins everywhere we went. I remember looking out across the vast herds at one point in the trip and seeing an unbroken continuum of dolphins for at least a mile and a half in one direction. Although the sooty shearwaters are starting to really increase their population size in the Channel right now, there was generally not much bird activity or surface hot spots today. Outside of a couple of small patches with some crashing brown pelicans, most of the anchovy schools seemed to be deeper today. As for a common dolphin headcount, we had a debate about this in the wheelhouse and concluded that printing 5,000 might actually be playing down the totals. The truth is that we have no technology by which a more accurate estimate can be measured. This is a good problem to have, eh?
Again, after some debate and comparing notes, we are putting in print 14 #humpbackwhales today, but all of us agreed that the real number could easily be 20 but not 30. Mixed in the humpback population today we had two mother-calf pairs. The first pair we encountered had a very active calf and we located this pair due to its pectoral fin slapping and rolling around. Soon the little calf got airborne and breached about 20 times in two bursts of 10 or so. I have included a photograph of this calf in action above. The second mother-calf pair was the mom with the deep propeller scar which Captain Dave, using his Captain’s powers duly granted by the United States Coast Guard, Long Beach California Division, has now named “Scarlet.” He had previously named her calf “Shorty.” Whether or not this pair cares about having human names remains as big a mystery as why they breach, or why a mother whale that has obviously had a bad encounter with a boat in the past, continues to swim all around and under the Condor Express…which the 2 did again today. Everyone was stoked.
Lest I forget, on the way home Dave spotted a medium sized ocean sunfish (Mola mola) basking (what else?) in the warm sun, and we had great looks.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express