2015 11-13 SB Channel
Not far outside the harbor we visited shortly with 5 Pacific white-sided dolphins that were foraging alongside a dozen or so California sea lions. We ran south for a half an hour after this and saw only a few more rafting sea lions in kelp paddies.
For the second trip in a row two exceedingly friendly humpback whales (of the 4 seen) headed straight for the Condor Express and stayed with us for just over an hour. These were NOT the same whales we had contact with on Wednesday's trip, but were two very large (perhaps females) humpback whales with dark pectorals and unique, but not damaged, dorsal fins. Today's pair hung motionless about 10 feet underwater and slowly milled around or logged directly under the boat. Each whale would slowly come out from under the hull, spy hop, and then spout. Next the humpback would slowly sink down a few feet and "hang out." Given the crystal clear Santa Barbara cobalt conditions, of course we could see every tiny bump and hair on the humpbacks no matter whether they were relaxing submerged or on the surface. The whole encounter was much more gentle and less animated than Wednesday.
After parting ways, we moved a few hundred yards east and found a small pod of 125 or more long-beaked common dolphins. There were many juveniles in the pod, larger than a newborn calf but still swimming close to mom.
What a day!
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One of seven images in a row showing a humpback whale rising up from the depths to do a bit of kelping. Kelping refers to an animal intentionally "playing" with Macrocystis, Pelagophycus, Nereocystis or other kelp species that are detached and drifting on the surface. Humpbacks are thought to have very sensitive skin and seem to "enjoy" this experience.