2015 11-14 SB Channel
Could it get any better? What a week it has been with drop dead gorgeous weather, clear air, clear water, and lots of friendly marine mammals. We were not even 20 minutes out of Santa Barbara Harbor when our friend Mason spotted the first of what would be a total of 9 humpback whales. This solo whale was heading west and traveling just beneath the surface…coming up for air only rarely.
Captain Dave moved the Condor Express a few more miles to the south where Mason had already lined up more wildlife for us. Here we found a little hot spot with very few sea birds, but it looked like the 3 friendly humpback whales we found here were diving deep and bringing up by-catch for the 500 or so long-beaked common dolphins and some California sea lions. Also on patrol in this region were 2 Minke whales, and both made close passes by the boat. The 3 humpbacks came by the boat several times then played under and around it. I would not necessarily call it a mugging, but it was an on-going very friendly encounter.
Just after noon we located 2 more humpback whales with long bottom times, and nearby was an active California sea lion shaking out a fish it had captured. It looked like it needed to make the morsel smaller so it could be swallowed whole, before a dozen or so gulls and a few brown pelicans stole the dinner. It’s always fun to check out another link in the dynamic food web of the Santa Barbara Channel.
Around 1:00pm we found 3 more humpback whales with additional spouts both east and west of our location. One of these whales breached, or more accurately, did a belly-slap, twice very close to the boat. Later we meandered through a very sanguine pod of around 750 additional long-beaked common dolphins.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry CondorExpressPhotos.com
PS Our trip tomorrow has been cancelled as rain and gale winds are expected to develop in the Channel.