2015 09-03 SB Channel
At 1130 am Dave put the brakes on (er, pulled the jet buckets down) so we could watch a nice-sized female California sea lion toss around what was left of a flatfish and then finally swallowed it. It is always great to get first hand looks at the many food chains we have in the Santa Barbara Channel.
One of the several high points of the day was a giant hot spot Actually, there were tons of long-beaked common dolphins (we watched at least 1200 today), more California sea lions, and a variety of seabirds, especially black-vented shearwaters. This hot spot was being mauled by 12 humpback whales which included a few episodes of surface lunge feeding, sideways feeding, and sub-surface feeding. Several white bellies showed long ventral grooves in the blubber as a beast rolled to finish its meal.
Pelagic red crabs were inside the Painted Cave again today as Dave did his now infamous Santa Cruz Island tour, short version. The crabs were on the surface and eastern side of the cave where their bright red exoskeletons were contrasted by the deep, blue, clear water. Soon we were heading north and back looking for more cetaceans. Around 130 pm we spotted an area with 2 more humpbacks and another 100 or so dolphins.
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Image 3 of 3 in a row: a surface lunging humpback whale feeds very close to our boat. The beast is now almost completely upside down and has exposed the ventral grooves in its blubber. These grooves are contracting and expelling water through the baleen and out of the mouth.