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Windy morning coastal trip yields 8 big whales, 1000 dolphins.

2022 02-16 SB Channel

On Monday we started our coastal whale-watch trips that focus on the behavior of northbound migratory gray whales. During the coming couple of months these whales are leaving their mating and calving lagoons in Baja California Sur and heading to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea. The Condor Express will offer 3 trips, each 2 ½ hours long, departing Santa Barbara Landing at 9 am, 12 noon and 3 pm daily, depending on sea conditions and passengers. Today we ran a single trip at 9 am.

It was sunny and bright during this morning excursion, but it came with winds in the wake of a winter storm that hit yesterday. Consequently, the sea conditions were moderately uncomfortable, but the hardy whale-watchers that came were treated to exceptional wildlife sightings, including: 4 gray whales, 4 humpback whales and 1000 long-beaked common dolphins.

One strategy our captains employ during this season is to run up the coast (west) from the harbor to UCSB and its environs. Later in the trip, we may turn offshore (south) for a few miles, then head home (east), stopping along the way for wildlife viewing. Today we first spotted wildlife as several hot spots full of seabirds and dolphins had formed on the southern leg of our course. In addition to hundreds of dolphins, we also watched 2 separate pairs of northbound gray whales. Pairs are mostly comprised of adults and sub-adults during this early phase of the migration.

A short distance further south brought us 4 humpback whales, a trio and a single. Again, there were hotspots, birds and plenty of dolphins all around. There were several instances of surface lunge feeding by the humpback whales which is always one of the most impressive whale behaviors to witness.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express, and CondorExpressPhotos.com

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