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Top Notch the Humpback Whale Got Very Friendly

2015 09-11 SB Channel

The skies over the Santa Barbara Channel started with some high level subtropical stuff that held the heat and humidity on the ground. Later in the day the clouds dissipated and a light breeze helped bring some relief. Of course, out on the Santa Barbara Channel things were fantastic and finding cetaceans offshore remains my personal favorite way to beat the mainland heat waves. Speaking of conditions offshore, the surface water temperature in the mouth of the world-famous Painted Cave was a whopping 75°F. Can anyone say El Niño ?

After leaving Santa Barbara this morning our first cetacean encounter was with a small herd of approximately 75 short-beaked common dolphins. The pod came near the boat, then sounded for a while and, as a group (of course) returned to the surface and the Condor Express.

About 40 minutes later we had one of the best cetacean encounters of the month. Top Notch the whale got very friendly. It came to the surface after a deep dive and headed right for the boat.   It spouted and stayed very close, then sounded again and repeated its friendly behavior. As I may have mentioned a few times over the past weeks, the crystal clear Santa Barbara cobalt water really enhanced this experience. One could see the entire body of Top Notch from its knobby head to broad, strong tail, right alongside the Condor.

Another 40 minutes passed and we found a pod of 5 humpback whales. One was Top Notch again, one was another pal of ours named Scarlet, the then there was a trio of very large whales that we did not recognize since they had no readily identifiable scars or wounds. Next it was off to our Santa Cruz Island tour and a previously mentioned visit to the Painted Cave. On our way home we found one more humpback whale, a small one, and about 50 long-beaked common dolphins.

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

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