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Warm Air, Calm Seas, Humpback Calf Goes Berserk

2015 05-24 SB Channel

Captain Eric and the crew took the Condor Express away from the dock in Santa Barbara and headed east to where the hot spots have been forming for the past week. It was another gorgeous Spring day in the Santa Barbara Channel with only a very light breeze and an almost glassy surface all day. More good news…the water has cleared up and is getting blue again after a 2-week plankton bloom. It was one of those fine days on the water.

The Condor Express started up running southeast along the inside passage, between the rig line and the beach. About a mile north of Hillhouse we had our first long-beaked common dolphins with about 500 in a scattered herd…nice to see in the blue water. Continuing on this track, and about a mile north of Henry, we intersected the path of 3 humpback whales. One of these was Scarlet, our friend. It was not too long until a small hot spot formed-up and Scarlet did a vertical lunge at the surface to prove what a glutton she really is.

Moving on, our next stop was to watch two massive beast humpback whales about 5 miles east of Hogan.   One turned out to be our pal Rope, and Rope threw her tail once just to check if we were paying attention. We were. A medium sized ocean sunfish (Mola mola) was patrolling the area too.

Our final, and longest, viewing stop of the day was on a moveable hot spot that was approximately 6 miles southeast of Hogan. Here we watched a 6 more humpback whales (with lots of other spouts all around within visual range), and a mother #whale and her calf were in the mix. There was lots of activity out of this batch of whales including several instances of surface lunge feeding. A couple of these feeding events included three whales vertically lunging simultaneously like you see on Wild Kingdom. This hot spot included an additional 2,500 or so long-beaked common dolphins.   The aforementioned calf got a wild hair on its chin and started repeatedly slapping its tail on the water.   Our veteran naturalist, Gary, counted 68 slaps, which came in batches of 10 or 12 at a time followed by the calf rolling right-side-up and issuing a trumpet vocalization. As a side note, both mom and the kid had white pectoral fins so it was easy to keep track of them in the clearing water.

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

PS   I’ll get the photographs from today posted online sometime tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I posted a video of the calf tail-slapping on my FaceBook page.

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