2017 04-29 SB Coast
Finally, a break in the strong winds and heavy seas that have plagued the Santa Barbara Channel all week! Skies were sunny and the sea surface was glassy with a light residual chop. As the day progressed the winds picked up a little bit, but nothing to worry about. Total sightings for the day included 6 bottlenose dolphins, 18 gray whales, and about 50 California sea lions. 8 Pacific harbor seals were on the bait barge. It was a day full of wonderful young gray whale antics.
9am Just west of the old lighthouse we intercepted 6 gray whales that consisted of 3 cow-calf pairs. All 6 whales were slowly traveling together in a single pack. This gave the youngsters some time to fool around while still trying to keep up with mom. About 6 bottlenose dolphins came down from the west and passed the whales, but Captain Dave turned the boat and we watched the group for a period that included some close approaches.
12 noon Our first gray whale cow-calf pair of the trip was discovered near Leadbetter Beach. The pair wad very regular and business like. We had great looks and then Captain Dave took a short deviation from the whale super-highway to explore a nice oceanic hot spot with crashing birds, but no whales. It was, in fact, a big anchovy bait ball with birds. The big predators of the hot spot were California sea lions that chased the anchovies and got them tightly packed for easier consumption. Moving back to shallow water and the kelp beds, there were two gray whale mothers with calves forming a tightly formed quad pod. One of the calves stole the show by “acting up.” It breached at least 20 times, rolled around and did a series of nice chin-slaps too.
3pm Dave headed up to the west and searched the kelp superhighway until a group of 6 gray whales (3 cow-calf pairs) were located at Goleta Bay. These were followed up to Coal Oil Point (aka, Counter Point), where we left them and turned the Condor Express offshore and took a deep water path back to the harbor. Great weather conditions persisted all day long. More young gray whale antics were seen on this trip as well.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express