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Twelve Gray Whales – Southbound !!

We ran one trip and left the dock at high noon for a showdown in the Santa Barbara Channel. Again we had very good air quality and supreme visibility including all 4 of our Channel Islands. Instead of a showdown it was more like show time as we closely watched at least 12 migratory gray whales. All 12 whales were heading east (southbound) at least at first. We encountered our first trio of gray whales about 1 mile south of Santa Barbara Harbor, thanks to the keen eyes of deckhand Augie, and followed them east for quite a while and had great looks. Moving on, we next spotted 3 gray whale spouts behind the Condor about a half mile away. Again it was 3 more gray whales heading east….but during one of their prolonged down cycles they reversed course and were found heading west…sneaky!

Before long we roamed a bit to search for marine mammals and almost immediately we spotted 3 additional gray whales and they were on a heading that took them directly at the port side of the Condor.   Captain Mike had to back down to keep out of their path. His captain skills were evident all day today as he navigated whales and also a minefield of lobster buoys in the area just outside the harbor entrance. Our next sighting was a pair of gray whales, one of which was small (but not a newborn).   You could see its entire outline under the clear blue water. While following this pair, suddenly a huge and very dark gray whale surfaced in front of the boat…making a total of 12 for the trip.   Wow!

Special note: three times this week, two of which were today, a surface plume of light brown material appeared just as a group of whales came up after some down time. Was it deep water plankton being kicked up by the cetaceans?   Was it feces…hard to believe since they don’t feed much on the migration? or perhaps these beasts were taking bites of sand and sediments on the bottom and ejecting it from their mouths on the way up?   We’ll have to keep an eye (and camera) on future developments of this phenomenon.

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

PS    I’ll get the rest of today’s photos online by tomorrow night.

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