Condor Express - SEA Landing
301 W. Cabrillo Blvd.
Santa Barbara, CA  93101
(805) 882-0088 (Phone)   |   (888) 779-4253 (Toll Free)   |   (805) 965-0942 (Fax)
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Year Founded:

   This all-new, 75 foot, high-speed catamaran is the most comfortable & advanced vessel on the west coast, in the premier Whale Watching & Party/Dinner Cruise venue in California. Crew members are experienced naturalists. Come ride with the experts.
    The Santa Barbara Channel is home to over 30 different species of whales, dolphins, and seals and sealions that visit throughout the year, making these waters some of the most consistent locations found anywhere to view a variety of marine mammals. The Discovery Channel's "Wonders of our National Parks" highlighted the outstanding abundance of marine life in the Santa Barbara Channel and named it "One of the 10 Best Places in the WORLD to View Wildlife."
    From May through November (summer season) our cruising grounds include the nutrient rich waters around Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands. It's this area that is generally considered to contain one of the world's highest concentration of feeding blue whales and humpback whales in the world! In the winter and spring months we visit with the California gray whale herd as it passes by on both their Southern and Northern migration.
    The CONDOR EXPRESS is available for private charters for those who wish to book the entire vessel for any type of function or event, including birthdays, weddings, fundraisers, anniversaries, or a sunset cruise. Groups can be as small as 10 people or up to 149 persons. The CONDOR EXPRESS is just what your group needs for that perfect experience on the water. Its large, luxuriously teak paneled, walk through cabin offers comfortable booth seating for up to 68 people! A complete galley, cocktail bar, buffet hot table and salad bar. And catering is always available from light snacks and hors d'oeuvres to full dinners. We also offer regularly-scheduled Open Party Cocktail/Sunset Cruises along the coast, as well as Adventure Cruises such as Pelagic Bird Trips, Island Kayaking, and much more throughout the year. The CONDOR EXPRESS is also the perfect platform for educational and research trips, as well as marine-oriented film work. It has the speed and stability to work comfortably anywhere your research needs take you, and is well equipped with state of the art navigational equipment, a large working deck, and the ability to work underwater equipment.

Activities Available:
    Birding,  Cruises,  Kayaking,  Tours,  Whale Watching,  Wildlife Tours,  

Business Categories:
    Bird Watching,    Boat Charters,    Boat Charters,    Deep-Sea Fishing,    Kayaking & Canoeing,    Tours,    Whale Watching,    Whale Watching,    Whale Watching,    Wildlife Tours,

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    Summer: 24/7 -- Winter: 6 am - 7 pm

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    During normal business hours

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    Outdoor Location

Handicapped Accessible?

    Some restrictions

Cell Phones?

Cameras/Recording Equip.?

Pets Allowed?

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 Recent News & Buzz!!
6/27/16 - Cetaceans found by sound and smell.
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Captain Eric and his fearless whale finder Auggie were put to the test today in the Santa Barbara Channel. The stratus was down on the deck all day with visibilities less than 100 feet at times. The cetaceans were found by sound and smell (and a lot of clean living) A total of 5 humpback whales were watched and great looks were had fairly close to the Condor Express.
On the way across the Channel and into The Lanes two moderately large herds of long-beaked common dolphins were encountered. They, of course, found us, we didn’t find them. The thick stratus seems to reduce glare and keep the surface glassy, and this makes for ideal dolphin watching conditions. There were about 800 total dolphins today.
Later, a single humpback was found, on our way home. It threw its tail several times fairly close to the boat and made a lot of noise thumping its tail on the water and issuing trumpet blasts. Sometimes the fog can be quite magical.  Website
6/26/16 - Get your tickets for the Opera Cruise -- July 16, with Eduardo Villa
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World renowned Tenor, Eduardo Villa, will perform his favorite arias, including Nessun Dorma, La Dona e mobile, Vesti La Giubba, and other great arias, as well as several Broadway hits. A rare opportunity to experience opera up-close and personal. ... Presented by: Condor Express - SEA Landing ... Venue: Condor Express- SEA Landing  Website
6/24/16 - Save the Date! July 4th Fireworks Cruise on the Condor Express
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Enjoy Santa Barbara’s 4th of July fireworks show from the decks of the Condor Express. There’s nothing like the view from the Santa Barbara Channel. It’s the best seat in the house! Cruise includes light appetizers and no host full bar. ... Presented by: Condor Express - SEA Landing ... Venue: Condor Express - SEA Landing  Website
6/20/16 - Mola mola and More
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Our exit from Santa Barbara Harbor this morning was greeted by moderate seas and 15 knot winds, both of which came in much earlier than forecast. The ride out to the southwest was slowed down to bolster the comfort level, and no significant sightings took place for the first hour. I should mention that it was bright and sunny all day.
The humpback whales we watched yesterday had moved to the southwest. Thing were looking pretty empty, windy and choppy until the staff photographer saw a breach about a mile away. This would be the first of 7 humpback whales we closely watched. Numerous other humpbacks were around the zone, but would have required pounding into the oncoming seas at the risk of passenger satisfaction, so Captain Dave settled-in and watched the whales that were within our area.
After running to the southwest, it was nice to find a few whales that were coming down-swell to the east. Multitudes of long-beaked common dolphins were creating localized feeding hot spots with seabird activity and all this did attract the whales. By the way, at least 1,600 dolphins were around the boat as the totals for the day were tallied. On one occasion we were watching dolphins and a nice medium-sized ocean sunfish (Mola mola) swam alongside the boat so we had good looks.
Our sightings ended about 5 miles southwest of Habitat when it was time to slowly make our way back home having done a nice survey of cetaceans in the northern half of the Santa Barbara Channel. The good news is the winds and seas are forecast to calm down tomorrow and Wednesday.  Website
6/17/16 - Tons of Cetaceans!
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We ran a private whale excursion for a short time today and the following cetaceans were watched closely: Humpback whales = 6 (more in the area) ... Blue whales = 4 (more in the area) ... Common dolphins = 2,000. You never know what cetaceans Mother Nature has in store.
The great whales have rediscovered Santa Barbara. Over 27 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises come to our channel each year since 1990 to feed, mate and frolic... which makes Santa Barbara one of the best year 'round whale watching areas in the world. Our trips depart daily at 10am, returning at 2:30pm on the incredible CONDOR Express, one of the finest whale watching vessels in the world.  Website
6/9/16 - More cetaceans than you could imagine.
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The Condor Express excursion began as Captain Dave ran west to a point several miles off UCSB were he encountered around 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins in groups spread out and feeding. Many sea birds joined the banquet, and soon there were around 5 humpback whales in the zone too. One of them breached close to the boat. We also got a nice, yet fleeting, glimpse of a Minke whale here too.
Next Dave tried to head out to the Lanes and search for blue whales, but was stalled out when a second, but much larger, ocean hot spot was located. Northern anchovy schools were all over but their population size was diminishing before our very eyes. We close watched an additional 15 humpback whales with many more in the area, and another 1,000 or so common dolphins were here too. Birds were crashing and diving and squawking all around. Dave held the Condor Express in a stationary holding pattern as the wildlife circulated around including several surface lunge feeding episodes.
Later, upon reaching the Lanes, 3 blue whales, 1 fin whale, and another single humpback whale made for another great sighting location. One blue whale was exceedingly friendly and came towards the boat to look around a few times. Perhaps the most exciting feature of the blue whale sighting was the interaction between 6 Dall’s porpoise that actually “rode the bow” of the blue whales and followed them around for quite a while. Later, this same group of Dall’s found the Condor Express and rode our bow too as we were heading home.
In addition to the Dall’s porpoise the trip home included a very big ocean sunfish (Mola mola), more common dolphins and another relatively shy humpback whale.  Website
6/8/16 - Another blue whale mega experience
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Captain Dave started the day with a large area of scattered long-beaked common dolphins. About 300 of these little cetaceans were not far offshore from Santa Barbara Harbor. Nearby the first of three humpback whales was moving fast and staying down a long time. Our next stop was in The Lanes.
One blue whale quickly became two, then five with many more in the area. These giants were feeding/searching at depth and coming up to swim circles and breathe regularly. A couple individuals were regular tail flukers and this is always fun to see. A second humpback was searching around in the same area.
Dave ran over to the western end of Santa Cruz Island for his tour of the sea cliffs and a ride inside the world-famous Painted Cave. The ocean surface was like everywhere else in the Channel today: flat and glassy. One difference however was that the Cave was full of pelagic red crabs, not purple sailor jellies. Upon leaving the Cave and Island, a third humpback whale was watched and two large fin whales joined the sighting. The humpback, not to out done by the huge body size of the fins, breached very close to the boat three times in a row. That put the final punctuation on the day, and this report.  Website
6/6/16 - An Epic Day
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Captain Eric and his crew ran an excellent adventure out to the Ledge where the Condor Express (CX) whale fans were treated to something new: no fog ! Consequently the whale sightings were spectacular and we are hoping for continued great conditions as the new week continues. The total sightings for today included 400 long-beaked common dolphins, 4 humpback whales, 2 fin whales, and 12 blue whales closely watched with many more spouts all around the boat.
Things got off to a quick start as we approached the 50 fm curve on a line to the West End. Here we located a spread-out and busy group of common dolphins that were engaged in chasing down northern anchovies. They did take time out to visit the boat and say hi to their peeps. There was also one migrating humpback, heading east, mixed in with the little cetaceans.
Continuing our trek to the south and into The Lanes, another humpback (long down times) was encountered so we moved closer to the Cave where at least 7 blue whales were encountered. Several of these blue whales approached the CX, swam under the boat, and logged right next to us so that we had to look straight down to whale watch instead of laterally. Fluking-up by the blues was also very abundant today…it seemed like every other dive.
Heading home two very active humpback whales were easy to locate due to all the splashing around. One had a peculiar behavior during which it swam along the surface at a very high speed while slapping one of its gigantic pectoral fins against its own body. Huh? The second humpback at first appeared to be logging but started moving slowly forward, then picked up steam and breached within 50 yards of the CX several times. It then proceeded to slap its pects, roll around, and generally make a fuss. Three more blue whales surfaced and joined the mix.
A short time later we watched one fin whale slowly move west then circle around a bit with 2 minute dives. A second fin whale surfaced a ways in front of the CX bow, approached the boat, dove under us and hung motionless beneath our two hulls. At one point it let out a huge bubble blast so the air came up all around us. Wow, what an epic day!  Website
6/3/16 - Spring/Summer Islands Cruise -- Whale Watching on the Condor Express
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The great whales have rediscovered Santa Barbara. Over 27 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises come to our channel each year since 1990 to feed, mate and frolic... which makes Santa Barbara one of the best year 'round whale watching areas in the world. Our trips depart daily at 10am, returning at 2:30pm on the incredible CONDOR Express, one of the finest whale watching vessels in the world. ... Presented by: Condor Express - SEA Landing ... Venue: Condor Express - SEA Landing  Website
5/30/16 - Outstanding Cetaceans
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Captain Eric reports very good sea conditions in the Santa Barbara Channel again today, and his track ran from Santa Barbara Harbor south to east Santa Cruz Island. On the 50 fm curve heading over 2 migratory humpback whales were located and watched as they kept moving east. There were also 200 long-beaked common dolphins around. At the Island, Eric ran into Potato harbor and on his way out and heading home an additional 3 humpbacks and over 1,300 dolphins added to the outstanding cetaceans.  Website
5/26/16 - Friendly humpback whale
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The weather and sea conditions today were similar to yesterday with a light to moderate breeze but no swell whatsoever. Skies were sunny and you could see from Boney Ridge to Conception and Arch Rock to Carrington. The region is full of humpback whales all of which are out foraging alone with no surface feeding or signs of bait on the surface. Here’s how it went down:
Right outside the breakwater Captain Dave spotted a handful of inshore bottlenose dolphins and they were friendly to the Condor Express and to a woman SUP’er nearby. We moved up the coast at an angle so we ended up on the 50 fathom line off Gaviota when Dave made a U-turn to follow the 50 east. This put the breeze astern and left us looking down the backs of the chop for a better view of spouts. Around 1120 am we started our encounter with a second species of dolphin. Nearly 200 long-beaked common dolphins, broken into groups of 20 – 30 individuals, were all around. This would turn out to be the first of many groups we’d see today, all of which were friendly. It also must be Santa Barbara Channel Dolphin Mating day, as these shameless cetaceans were active everywhere we went. As a side note, I did watch a single upside down male dolphin that tried to mate with three different right-side-up females in a row. He was met with a resounding tail slap by each with no apparent harm to its self-esteem.
Right after our first common dolphin encounter we spotted our first two humpback whales. Each was moving along to the east with no apparent interest in each other. We saw lots of nice tail flukes, and tagged along for almost an hour until we encountered three more solo humpback whales. Our whale watching took us down east almost to Habitat. One friendly humpback whale surfaced right next to the bow of the Condor Express.
On the way home we paid a visit to the sea lion mob that has over-taken an abandoned sailboat in the East Beach Anchorage.  Website
5/24/16 - Humpbacks Galore
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It was a wonderful sunny day in the Santa Barbara Channel and the wind never got going. Captain Eric, along with Ojos de águila Auggie, spotted lots of wildlife and we had a great excursion. The trip took us south about 6 miles, then across to Santa Cruz Island, and back home. Here are the details:
Within the first half-hour away from the dock we encountered a vast area of at least 1,500 feeding long-beaked common dolphins between 2 miles and 6 miles offshore. Upside-down dolphins were everywhere as were leaping little silvery bait fish. Towards the end of this sighting Auggie had already put his binoculars on a series of tall spouts not too far south of us.
Thus we entered a second vastly productive zone which contained approximately 20 humpback whales spread out, and we closely observed 9 of them. About 1,000 additional dolphins roamed through the region with only occasional dolphin surface feeding and minimal bird activity. One particular humpback “adopted” the Condor Express and moved at a brisk 8 knot pace to the east with the boat alongside for at least 20 minutes. No deep dives, no tail flukes, this was a traveling animal. It did let out a good number of trumpet blows. At one point we were surrounded by dolphins including a dozen of them fighting for position on the bow wave, when Eric spotted a large ocean sunfish or Mola mola in the mix. He backed down which confused the dolphins but gave us excellent views of the Mola mola in undisturbed water.
Just after noon we ran over to the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island and Eric gave his island tour and talk which included a nice visit to beautiful Potato Harbor. Oh, I almost forgot two things. Just outside Potato we watched as two very high speed military boats came west from Anacapa and swerved around us only to be out of sight within very few minutes. Glad they are on our side. The second thing was that today was the first day with LARGE flocks of sooty shearwaters resting on the surface and taking flight as we passed them We’ve had small bunched for about 2 weeks, but now the main migration to the Channel is under way.  Website
5/19/16 - Eastern Santa Cruz Island
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The fog lifted when we were on the north side of the Lanes and had to slow down to see all the wildlife in the sun. This region produced 4 humpback whales (more in the vicinity) and at least 2,000 long-beaked common dolphins all spread out over a two mile line feeding on anchovies. Seabirds followed each separate group, as the humpbacks made a few close approaches to the Condor Express and showed us lots of flukes.
Next up on the tour, Captain Dave gave his interpretation of the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island including trips inside picturesque Potato Harbor and the big Chinese Harbor. As he left Chinese and was almost back to the Lanes, another 4 humpback whales (plus more in binocular range) were located along with a legitimate mob of at least 200 California sea lions. It’s mating time on the rookeries and some of the younger animals take to the ocean to avoid the wrath of the adult male beach masters.  Website
5/12/16 - Whales and a Bald Eagle
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Captain Eric found “a tale of two Channels” in terms of weather and sea conditions today. It was nice, warm and even glassy on the north side of the Lanes, but south there were strong winds and some salt spray being kicked up. There was a dramatic cloud cap along the ridgeline of Santa Cruz Island. Luckily, as Eric did his tour of the island sea cliffs and the Cave, he put the weather astern for a nice warmish ride.
Total sightings for today included 6 gray whales, 2 humpback whales and 1 bald eagle (also seen yesterday). Here’s the scoop:
11:10 am ... One humpback whale moving east. Four minutes down, two minutes up. No flukes. This was in the northbound shipping lane.
12:10 pm ... South of the Lanes on the “08.” Our second humpback whale was located. It had 12 minutes down, two minutes up, and kicked its flukes up on the terminal dive.
12:30 pm ... Aforementioned tour of the west end sea cliffs of Santa Cruz Island and inside the mouth of the world-famous Painted Cave. No pelagic red crabs today.
1:00 pm ... During our continued tour to the east, a bald eagle was located and watched just past Cueva Valdez. Breath taking.
2:25 pm ... Between the buoys, just outside the mouth of Santa Barbara Harbor, and well inside the cruise ship “Celebrity Infinity” from San Diego, six gray whales consisting of 3 cow-calf pairs, were located and watched as they headed to Alaska.  Website
5/11/16 - Mother Lode of Humpback Whales
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Another “June” overcast day with very calm seas that were glassy most of the day. The crew spotted plenty of activity and it turned out to be an epic day out near the Santa Cruz Channel. Our totals for the day included 2 gray whales, 9 humpback whales, 6 Dall’s porpoise and at least 350 long-beaked common dolphins. Here is the whole story:
Right out of the gate I spotted what would turn out to be a very shy gray whale cow-calf pair. They remained a half-mile or so off the beach and did not turn in to the kelp beds at all while we watched. They had long down times and an erratic course. We moved offshore. Within 40 minutes our first humpback whale was located. This knobby-headed cetacean turned out to be shy also and its long, 12-minute down times were driving us impatient whale watchers crazy. We continued offshore.
Around 1055 am a moderately large pod of around 100 long-beaked common dolphins was encountered and we had some great looks. Soon thereafter a much larger pod was located with at least 250 dolphins, some were feeding upside down, some were chasing the females around upside down. We continued our path to the south until we reached the 09 line, on the south side of the Lanes, and about even with the Santa Cruz Channel. Here we saw “the mother lode” of humpback whales…9 closely watched and many more in the area that we did not have time to stay with. One pair came very close to the Condor Express and swam alongside us for a while as if we were not even there. A member of another pair threw its tail wildly and caught everyone by surprise…just once. While we watched the humpback show, approximately 6 Dall’s porpoise passed through the area. Always fun to see. It was a massive humpback whale hot spot and lots of fun to watch.  Website
5/8/16 - 6 Gray Whales Together
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Very dark skies and flash flood warnings framed the northern view but our neck of the Santa Barbara Channel was partly sunny and warm. Sea conditions were very good as a light breeze dappled the surface and a long period swell was almost imperceptible. These were ideal whale spotting conditions and the whales spotted today were correspondingly ideal. Here’s the story:
12 noon ..... Eric pointed out a group of four gray whales ( 2 cow-calf pairs) just off the Breakwater. They stayed tight together as a quad pod, circled out around the boat traffic near Santa Barbara Harbor, then finally pulled back into the kelp highway and surf zone up past Leadbetter. The sightings of this quad pod consisted of a few pairings and also a few foursomes. Their trek towards Alaska was fairly steady until we passed the Boathouse at Hendry’s. Here a third cow-calf pair that had been west of us joined up with our foursome and made a hexapod (is that a word?) okay, there were six together from that point on. Not long after joining forces all 6 gray whales stopped together and did a little playtime with the calves and perhaps some nursing too. There were frequent bubble blasts, head lifts, rolls, calves on top of moms and a spyhop or two…all just outside the breakers. This was an epic sighting.
We moved a bit more than 8 miles offshore and found a large aggregation of humpback whale scattered over a mile or so of water. There were at least a dozen humpbacks around this area, but we only had time to closely watch three of them. Again, the ideal sea conditions with 3 out of 4 Channel Islands as a backdrop, made this humpback encounter very special.  Website
5/4/16 - Quad Pod
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It was dense fog until late in the trip, with a few sucker holes with sun pouring down. There was just enough wind to entice a few kite-boarders. The coastal waters have turned a rich green-brown with the Spring bloom. It was a good single trip and here is the story:
12 noon ..... Heading out of the Harbor on radar does not happen very often. Such was the auspicious start to our excursion. We ran the kelp highway west as far as Isla Vista without seeing any spouts. There were spots along the highway with half-mile or more visibility and some solar warmth, but at IV we encountered a wall of dense stratus with no hope of seeing whales or kelp in it. Captain Dave turned the Condor Express around and re-traced his path while running east with the wind at our tail. As we approached the old extinguished light tower the fog lifted completely and the sun shone down upon 4 gray whales migrating along the outer edge, and sometimes middle of, the kelp. It was a quad pod. I coined the term quad pod to describe two cow-calf pairs of gray whales, or other Mysticetes. In this case, the two pairs swam as if it was a military flank with all four marching to Alaska side by side. Wow!  Website
5/2/16 - Santa Barbara coastal whales
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Mild weather and good crowds had the Condor Express running three excursions out of Santa Barbara today. Here are the details:
9 am ..... One gray whale mother and calf pair were located and followed for a while as they went about their trek to their feeding grounds in Alaska. After the gray whales, Captain Dave and his Whale Scout, Auggie, turned their sights offshore and quickly located 2 humpback whales heading west with 10 minute down times. Good tail flukes were seen by all, and one of the pair was very large.
12 noon ..... After a trip along the kelp superhighway up as far as More Mesa, the Condor Express again turned offshore. Right away a very small, solo humpback whale was seen. It was a humpback we saw a few weeks ago which has skin coloration like a gray whale, and it’s size is like a humpback calf. It appears to have plenty of energy and fluked up on every dive. This excursion ended with a tour of the East Beach Anchorage sea lion habitat.
3 pm ..... The late afternoon adventure located 4 gray whale (2 cow-calf pairs). The first pair was just outside Santa Barbara Harbor where they were dodging the random zig-zags of a Santa Barbara sailboat regatta and eventually went pretty far offshore to find safety. The pair finally turned back to the beach up by the old Lighthouse. Not long after this the second pair of gray whales for the late afternoon were found. Again, lots of swimming and all migration stuff.  Website
4/29/16 - Cow-calf gray whales
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The Condor Express ran one excursion along the beautiful Santa Barbara coast today in search of wildlife in general and gray whale cow-calf pairs in particular. Four gray whales were located; it was two cow-calf pairs. It was a bright and sunny day with a moderate chop from strong northwesterly winds in the far end of the Channel. The morning started with a light breeze and ended up with much heavier winds.
9 am ..... Captain Dave and his crew ran the kelp line nice and slow up the coast as far as UCSB. Around Goleta Bay, near the university, the first pair of cow-calf gray whales were located. The mother was on the small side. Was this her first calf? With winds freshening up quickly, Dave ran east and put the seas astern for a smoother ride. The second cow-calf pair of whales were observed east of the Harbor.  Website
4/27/16 - Mother and Calf Parade
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Oh, my. Sometimes the marine weatherperson gets it wrong. Today was supposed to start out breezy then morph into full gale conditions. Luckily for everyone on the Condor Express today, it started out with a slight breeze and soon went to almost perfect glass calm. All this and plenty of gray whale mothers and calves on both of our excursions…Captain Dave at the helm. Here’s the breakdown:
9 am ..... Soon after departing Santa Barbara and getting around the Princess cruise ship, we located our first 2 gray whales of the 8 we watched on this trip. They consisted of 4 mother-calf pairs. The first ones were picked up at the Yacht club and watched until we round a second pair about half-way up Shoreline going towards Hendry’s. These first whales were moving steady to the west and we had great looks. Around 1030 am Dave accelerated and ran up to the ginormous kelp beds at Isla Vista where 2 more pairs of gray whales, mothers and calves, were traveling and playing in the seaweed. There was lots of kelping, rolling, spy-hopping and changing course from west to east and back again.
12 noon ..... Our noon trip was a private charter full of sea-going Princess cruise ship folks. Now bear in mind their ship had spent 2 of the windiest days we’ve seen in years coming down from SF to SB. And these dedicated whale lovers wanted to get off the big ship and get right back out there on the Condor Express. Three cheers for hearty Princess whale peeps !!
On this afternoon trip, with glassy seas appreciated even more by the cruisers, we located our gray whale pair up at Hendry’s and followed them almost to More Mesa. These were “all business, on track, hoping to reach Alaska quickly” whales. At one point they did have a nice interaction with 4 pesky inshore bottlenose dolphins. We turned east to look for more wildlife.
Our last marine mammals sighted were in the East Beach “free” anchorage where a dozen or so California sea lions have taken residence on an abandoned old sailboat with a small dinghy tied astern. The boat is leaning heavily from all that flesh, and the dinghy is almost completely sunken. What fun !  Website

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