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Two humpback encounters and three whales MUG the Condor Express in broad daylight

2022 09-11 SB Channel


The edge of the subtropical storm that brought rain and rough seas to the Channel yesterday had moved offshore. In its wake, Captain Devin and the crew found mirror glass sea conditions and mostly sunny skies. Don’t let the raw numbers, 3 humpback whales and 1500 long-beaked common dolphins, fool you. Devin told me it was the best “mugging” day he’s ever seen.

The first mugging was recorded and observed for nearly an hour quite close to the NOAA East Channel Buoy. Here seabirds and small numbers of dolphins had congregated around large surface anchovy schools. A single adult whale came directly to its fans on the Condor Express. In this mugging episode, a repertoire including spy-hops, rotating spy-hops, upside down swims, upside down pectoral fin waves and slaps, trumpet vocalizations plus some time spent “relaxing” in our jet wash. We could have gone directly home and everyone, crew included, would have said we had the best possible day.

But, never satisfied, Captain Devin and the crew moved south of The Buoy and found a pair of humpbacks. It was our old pal “Scarlet” with a very large friend. Again, instantaneous mugging began, and another amazing hour went by in a flash. Consider our first encounter and multiply it by 2 (or more). Simply mind blowing.

On the way home scattered dolphin groups and a mega pod were watched.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry Condor Express, and

P.S.  Captain Dave reminded me that some of my readers do not know what a “mugging” is. A mugging often starts like a close-approach, but the whale(s) don’t move away. They stay next to the hull, often inches away, and seem to get “excited,” or at least they display many behaviors (as described in today’s report). I think it is an example of inter-species communication between excited whale(s) and cheering, selfie-snapping, whale fans.

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