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Wind, swells and seas set the stage for a wonderful humpback whale session.

Image: a humpback whale in rough seas breached headlong into the gale winds.

2023 09-30 SB Channel

If you like mirror glass oceans, “you should’ve been here yesterday.” It’s like the Tale of Two Channels. Today was windy. There was a 4- to 6-foot swell, and plenty of choppy white caps everywhere. The forecasts led us to anticipate rough seas in The Channel after 2pm, but there it was to greet us as we departed the harbor this morning at 10am. Captain Dave and the crew safely navigated these waters and ultimately produce wonderful sightings: 14 humpback whales and 1000 long-beaked common dolphins. All of the action was 5 miles off the coast.

Gone were the dolphin and sea lion masses. We had two pods of dolphins, a long line at 1220p, and another on our way home at 150p. The first was almost at stampede level, the second a unified medium speed transit. Always fun to see.

Our first whales, a trio, were sighted at 1115a, and from that point we had both singles and groups as we moved west (slowly into the swell). In the first group we had a wonderful, close breach. An hour later we watched several more whales and saw social rolling around and heard trumpet blows. Later, in the afternoon, we watched a trio for about 30 minutes. There were several instances of breaching (see today’s photo), tail-throwing and more rolling around with pecs in the air.

The main take away was the visual scenery. We saw a large squall pass across Santa Cruz Island. We saw whales busting through the on-coming seas. We saw spout spray whipped-away by the wind. It is always spectacular to see humpback whales on a rough day as they are so “at home” in these natural conditions.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store,

Bob Perry Condor Express, and

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