2015 11-19 SB Channel
It was another gorgeous day with sunny, warm skies and calm seas. Again the above-water visibility was spectacular and we could see spouts 8 miles away with binoculars. We saw 1 Minke whale, over 200 common dolphins, 4 humpback whales, and the show-stopper: 1 southbound gray whale.
The gray whale was small, perhaps a yearling, and is the first southbound gray whale we've seen this season. We were surprised to find it in the middle of the Santa Barbara Channel, migrating through a zone where we have been seeing a lot of humpback whales and Minke whales the past week or so. As if the presence of this early whale was not enough, it turned out to be exceedingly friendly and came very close to the side of the Condor Express several times and given the great water clarity, one could see the whole body easily. (See photograph above).
After an hour of following this young gray whale east in the Channel, we moved to see some of the multiple humpback whale spouts that were all around us. At 12 noon we came up on our first two humpbacks, and one of them almost immediately spouted right next to the boat and then passed directly under for all its fans to see. A Minke whale was also found on patrol here. After 40 minutes or so of great looks, a small pod of 50 or so long-beaked common dolphin meandered through the whale area and there were lots of calves among them.
Near 100pm we moved to look at another pair of humpback whales that seemed to have longer surface times. Again it was not long until the pair came right up to the boat for a look. On our way home we encountered a larger pod of common dolphins, perhaps 150 individuals.
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Friendly humpback whale and its fan club. CINC naturalist Hal points the way. From left to right, the background topography includes the eastern terminus of the Santa Ynez moutains in west Ventura, Bony Ridge between Camarillo and Malibu, and tiny west Anacapa Island.