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:
    1973

Description:
   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,

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

Payment Accepted:
    Cash,   MasterCard,   Visa,  Debit Card,  

Admittance:
    During normal business hours

Location Type:
    Boat

Languages Spoken:
    English,  

Indoor/Outdoor:
    Outdoor Location

Handicapped Accessible?
    Yes

Smoking?
    Some restrictions

Cell Phones?
    Permitted

Cameras/Recording Equip.?
    Permitted

Pets Allowed?
    No

Gift Certificates?
    Available for Sale

Classes Offered?
    Yes.


 
 Recent News & Buzz!!
5/25/15 - Warm air, Calm seas, Humpback Calf goes Berserk
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Captain Eric and the crew took the Condor Express away from the dock in Santa Barbara and headed east to where the hot spots have been forming for the past week. It was another gorgeous Spring day in the Santa Barbara Channel with only a very light breeze and an almost glassy surface all day. More good news…the water has cleared up and is getting blue again after a 2-week plankton bloom. It was one of those fine days on the water.
The Condor Express started up running southeast along the inside passage, between the rig line and the beach. About a mile north of Hillhouse we had our first long-beaked common dolphins with about 500 in a scattered herd…nice to see in the blue water. Continuing on this track, and about a mile north of Henry, we intersected the path of 3 humpback whales. One of these was Scarlet, our friend. It was not too long until a small hot spot formed-up and Scarlet did a vertical lunge at the surface to prove what a glutton she really is.
Moving on, our next stop was to watch two massive beast humpback whales about 5 miles east of Hogan. One turned out to be our pal Rope, and Rope threw her tail once just to check if we were paying attention. We were. A medium sized ocean sunfish (Mola mola) was patrolling the area too.
Our final, and longest, viewing stop of the day was on a moveable hot spot that was approximately 6 miles southeast of Hogan. Here we watched a 6 more humpback whales (with lots of other spouts all around within visual range), and a mother #whale and her calf were in the mix. There was lots of activity out of this batch of whales including several instances of surface lunge feeding. A couple of these feeding events included three whales vertically lunging simultaneously like you see on Wild Kingdom. This hot spot included an additional 2,500 or so long-beaked common dolphins. The aforementioned calf got a wild hair on its chin and started repeatedly slapping its tail on the water. Our veteran naturalist, Gary, counted 68 slaps, which came in batches of 10 or 12 at a time followed by the calf rolling right-side-up and issuing a trumpet vocalization. As a side note, both mom and the kid had white pectoral fins so it was easy to keep track of them in the clearing water.
5/20/15 - Commodore's Corner
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Summer is fast approaching and all the wonderful things that come with summer - long nights and party cruises. Please check our schedule as we have added many new cruises this year that we are sure you will enjoy. These cruises fill up fast, so please make your reservations early. I look forward to seeing you on board!
5/19/15 - Another Mega-Humpback Day
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About 3 miles or so north of the commercial shipping lanes we encountered the first of our two “hot spots” with common dolphins (1,500), sea lions (hundreds), sea birds (mostly sooty shearwaters and brown pelicans), and about 12 humpback whales. There was not much swell in this area but the wind was moderate and the surface was perhaps a 3 on the Beaufort sea state scale.
En route to the hot spot Captain Dave stopped the Condor Express to look at two medium sized ocean sunfish (Mola mola) in greenish water. As for the humpback whales on this first stop, there were many more spouts in all directions one could add to the dozen we closely watched. Four of these beasts made a very friendly but fast swim right next to the Condor. Wise ol’ Dave had us in neutral and it’s good he did as one of the 4 surfaced right of the bow and scared the bejeebers out of all the loyal fans that had no way of knowing what was coming at them.
We then sailed off towards Santa Cruz Island, still a fair distance away, but seas were getting rougher the farther we went out, so Dave wisely (remember he’s wise) turned our course to the northeast and rode the swells towards Platform Charlie. He gave a great introductory talk about the oil platforms which are described in the oil company brochures as “sky-scrapers of the sea.”
On our way Dave spotted a large Minke whale and we had two nice but fast looks. Continuing north a bit more, deckhand Augie spotted spouts between us and the beach. At this point the spouts were probably about 3½ miles off East Beach. It was another “hot spot” with all the usual animals as previously described. We initially watched 2 humpback whales, then moved north a bit more and found 3 more. We were attracted to these spouts by a prolonged episode of tail slapping starting when we were a few miles away. It included two rest periods during which the beast rolled on its side and slapped its long pectoral fin instead. There were another 500 or so dolphins in this zone as well.
5/15/15 - Biomass Bonanza and Ship Strike Prevention
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Captain Dave ran one of those “see it all” classic whale watch excursions today with a new technological twist that saved whales. In short, we visited with 2 gray whales, 8+ humpback whales, and approximately 3,000 common dolphins and hundreds of California sea lions. And then the saving whales thing.
Heading out of the harbor and the sea lions on both bell buoys, we intended to go up near the Lighthouse and find gray whales we heard about. Instead, this plan was scrapped due to the presence of a mother gray whale and her calf passing the outer bell buoy right in our path. We watched for a while and noticed that mom had a huge white patch on both sides of her mid-dorsal region. The student marine biologists from Santa Barbara High nicknamed her “two spot.” Keep it simple!
Off we went toward the west end of Santa Cruz Island and across the Santa Barbara Channel which was very flat, no swells, and a light-to-moderate breeze. It was sunny and bright with all the storm clouds past us down to the southeast. The Condor Express was about ¾ths over to the island, and in the commercial shipping lanes, when the BBE-HP (Big Biomass Explosion-Hot Spot) was discovered. Here we found at least 8 adult humpback whales (perhaps more), along with at least 3,000 long-beaked common dolphins, hundreds of California sea lions, and a multitude of sea birds all following bait fish (probably anchovies) down beneath the surface. Among the sea birds were many thousands (maybe 5,000+) sooty shearwaters. They’ve arrived from New Zealand and their great figure-eight loop around the Pacific.
As previously mentioned, all this activity today was, unfortunately, taking place in the middle of the commercial shipping lanes that transit our Channel to provide a safe place for large container ships, tankers and bulk carriers to travel to and from LA-Long Beach harbor. Almost immediately Captain Dave saw a huge container vessel northbound and heading directly as us and, more importantly, the humpback whales. Dave quickly identified this cargo ship using his AIS (Automatic Identification System) and contacted the captain on the radio. The captain of the “NYK Triton” saw the Condor Express on his AIS too, and after Dave explained the abundance of whales and marine life located near us, the captain altered his course to bypass the hot spot. When the 304 meter long and 76,000 ton NYK Triton passed us by, the fearless common dolphins could be seen riding the massive bow wave. Wow. A single humpback surface near the port side of the ship, but not close enough for a collision. Meanwhile we found ourselves absolutely surrounded by cetaceans large and small, and noisy birds all around. It was hard to know which way to point your camera.
A few minutes later: Act 2. Dave saw another container ship, the “Ever Logic” about 8 miles away and, again, riding along in the lanes and on a collision course with the whales. This one was 335 meters long and 99,000 tons. Once again, the combination of AIS, VHF radio, along with courteous and caring big ship captains, prevented a second possible negative encounter. What a day.
After a long and magical time within the hot spot, it was time for the island tour portion of our trip. Dave took us along the northwestern sea cliffs of Santa Cruz Island and a small hauling spot for Pacific harbor seals. He also took the Condor Express deep into the mouth of the world famous Painted Cave. We were hoping last night’s rain would fuel the Cave waterfall, but no luck. The island was so dry it apparently soaked it all up with no runoff.
5/13/15 - Surrounded by Humpbacks and Dolphins
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Hooray! It was our first official trip of the “Island Whale Watch” season for 2015 and it was sensational. Captain Dave was at the help and as we left the sea lions on the entrance buoy in our wake, he set a course up the coast just in case any late season straggling gray whales were there. None spotted. But sharp-eyed Augie did locate a mini-pod of about 50 long-beaked common dolphins off Hope Ranch. We played for a few minutes then Dave turned south and headed for the west end of Santa Cruz island. There were thin stratus clouds overhead but you could see sun at the island and also to the west. Nobody was going too far to the west as strong winds up that way generated some moderate seas for our Santa Barbara Channel crossing. As we approached Santa Cruz the wind really blew and when the whales spouted spray was sent down-wind and asunder.
The west end of the island was awash and no #whales could be found. As we passed Fry’s Harbor, however, we found ourselves in the midst of a mega-pod of at least 2,500 long-beaked common #dolphins. These little cetaceans were traveling in all directions but each of them turned and rode the swells as they passed by from the north. I personally did not see these dolphins feeding, nor did I see bait in the rather green water, but there were several flavors of gulls, cormorants and crash-diving brown pelicans everywhere, and they were actively feeding and creating a massive oceanic hot spot. Sea lions also joined the activity.
As we rode down-swell to the east along the north face of the island, Dave gave a great island orientation and quickly located some spouts up ahead. The first pair of spouts belonged to a mother humpback whale and her calf…heading west, into the oncoming swells and wind. Soon there were many other humpback whale spouts, many moving west, but like the cow-calf pair, they all turned east, then north, then south through the same general spot. It was not long before the dolphins caught up with the whales and visa-versa. There was action all around the Condor Express as all the birds, dolphins, sea lions and whales got very active. All this activity was highlighted by the big swells and strong winds which blew spout spray, and features the humpback whales busting head-on through the seas. It was NatGeo all the way. We closely watched at least 8 humpback whales, but there were more spouts in the area we could not get to. One huge humpback had an all white tail and it was spectacular to see moving up and through the waves.
5/7/15 - A Fresh Breeze Deters Neither Gray Whales, Dolphins or the Condor Express
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Captain Dave ran one trip on the Condor Express yesterday, departing scenic Santa Barbara at 12 noon to search for wildlife in the abundant waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. Dave’s “eyes and ears” man, deckhand Augie, quickly spotted a small yet active pod of about 100 long-beaked common dolphins about a half mile east of the harbor and about the same distance offshore from the East Beach anchorage. These #dolphins were spread out and actively engaged in chasing bait fish. Due to the green water in this particular area I could not identify the fish species. Nevertheless we had wonderful time with these small and friendly cetaceans as they moved over to ride the bow quickly before getting back on the hunt.
From here Dave took a direct westerly course to run the outer edge of the near shore kelp forests which we did for quite a few miles. This is a peak time for gray whale cow-calf pairs, but we found ourselves in a “gap” between the migrating beasts until we reached Goleta Bay. Between the pier and UCSB we picked up our first gray whale mother and calf and followed the pair up and around Goleta Point, site of an old shore-based whaling station, but now called “Campus Point” in honor of the thousands of brilliant young minds hard at work on the bluff tops. By this time the afternoon westerly winds had kicked up quite a bit and this slowed our heading-into-the-wind strategy. Dave turned around and put the weather behind us and continued the search to the east.
Down to the east, out front of the Yacht Club, we located a second gray #whale mother and calf heading upstream into the weather and chop. We only had a few minutes with this pair due to time constraints (we stayed out a little late), but when we finally turned around to enter the harbor, there were at least 4 more whales behind us and between us and the harbor entrance. What a great time of year this is!
5/4/15 - 10 Gray Whales + Dolphins too
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Captain Eric reported the following cetacean sightings today: 9am ... 2 Gray whales (mother and calf) + 6 Bottlenose dolphins + 200 Long-beaked common #dolphins. 12 noon ... 2 Gray whales (another mother and calf) + 10 Bottlenose dolphins. 3pm ... 6 Gray whales (3 pairs of mothers & calves).
4/29/15 - Glorious summer-like day full of wild animals
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Captain Dave commanded the Condor Express for a single excursion leaving Santa Barbara Harbor at high noon for a showdown with the wildlife. It was warm and sunny, but things started off pretty windy. Two good things about the wind: it died a lot during the trip and there was not much swell under it. It was a magical day with at least 1,500+ #dolphins, 6 #whales, 50 #sea lions, and clear blue water.
Immediately after leaving our customary visit with the California sea lions on the harbor entrance buoy we spotted 2 gray whales, a mother and calf. They led us west into the wind and their glowing bodies were easy to track in the previously mentioned clear water. Before long our attention was diverted to a mob of at least 25 porpoising sea lions that had just a single Pacific white-sided dolphin in the mix. (Sighting a single white-sider all by itself with a mob of sea lions raises a bunch of questions). Sharp-eyed Augie-the-deckhand found us about 8 coastal bottlenose dolphins traveling west in the kelp along the shore. They made one pass out to the Condor, then resumed their travel.
Up ahead of the bottlenose dolphins there were more tall spouts. This turned out to be 4 more gray whales, you guessed it, 2 mothers each with calves. The four stayed together the whole time, from our initial sighting with them at Hendry’s Beach until we left them at Goleta. Further to the west off the Goleta Pier there was a mega-pod of long-beaked common dolphins scattered across a wide swath of ocean. There were easily 1,500 of these hungry little cetaceans and a bunch more sea lions joining the fun. Before long it was time to go and the course back to the harbor took us past a second group of 20 or so porpoising sea lions.  Website
4/27/15 - Mother and Calf, Dolphins, Sea Lions and an Elephant Seal
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Captain Eric and Augie put their best four combined eyes on the job today and their sightings added to an already spectacular day. (Tasha was busy in the Main Salon and Galley) The weekend winds subsided and left us with very light winds at noon, turning absolutely “mill pond” glassy by 12:30. It was warm and sunny and the great blue water clarity has returned to the coast. The stage was set for a wonderful excursion.
Off the lighthouse we encountered a pod of about 100 long-beaked common dolphins. They were friendly and everyone got excited. We were a half mile off the beach at that time so when the encounter ended we headed back to shore. On the way there was a gang of about 25 California sea lions all “porpoising” through the kelp beds. After that, it took us a while but we finally got situated on a mother gray whale and her calf just off the kelp at Coal Oil Point (aka, Counter Point, because the Gray Whales Count volunteers work there). Clear blue water, sunny skies and a mother with her calf. What could be better? We followed at a safe distance up to the Ellwood Oil Pier before our time ran out. Back inside Santa Barbara Harbor we saw the usual Pacific harbor seals on the bait barge, but today we had a special visitor….an elephant seal pup! It was hauled out on the beach near the Condor Express.  Website
4/24/15 - Gray Whales Play in the Surf !
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We ran one trip today departing at 12 noon. Once outside, there were scattered windrows of transparent, dead Purple Sailor jellies (Velella velella) to the west of Santa Barbara Harbor today, and only a few random non-windrow blue and live ones. Such may be the life cycle of Velella velella. The long-beaked common dolphins and gray whales were in much better shape than Velella. Off the Lighthouse we encountered 50 or so #dolphins and had a nice play session with them before proceeding westward. Further up the coast near Ellwood we found 6 gray whales traveling together, three mothers and their calves. At one point, near the Ellwood refinery beach, 4 of the gray #whales made a bee-line to the surf and we watched them ride waves, roll around, show their pectoral and tail flukes and more rarely, lift their heads, in water that must have been less than 10 feet deep. There were plenty of bubble blasts and in the photos you can see sand plumes being kicked up all around the whales. The calves seemed to be the most bold in their penetration of the breakers. It was well worth the trip to the west, that’s for sure. What a show!  Website
4/22/15 - Whales, Dolphins and Abundant Purple Sailors
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Mirror glass conditions persisted for most of the day in the northern Santa Barbara Channel today with only a very slight breeze starting up around 2 pm. There were overcast skies most of the day, with little “sucker holes” through which the sunshine peaked through to tease us all. Dave took the captain’s chair and, with Augie on the binoculars, we covered the entire coast from Rincon up past the Elwood oil pier. It was another fabulous day for wildlife.
Right off the bat Augie spotted a small pod of 4 coastal bottlenose dolphins which were made up of 3 adults and a large calf/ juvenile. The coastal water was a bit green, but we still were able to see these large #dolphins ride the bow. Next we encountered about 500 long-beaked common dolphins chasing little “pinhead” anchovies all around out front of Santa Barbara Harbor and East Beach. There were numerous little calves leaping here and there across the mirror surface and a bunch of California sea lions were in there too. Three Minke whales (2 large, 1 small) patrolled the zone as well.
We continued west up the coast until we located a quad pod that was, you guessed it, made up of 2 mother gray whales and their calves all traveling together near the kelp in front of the Bacara. The overcast marine layer conditions caused the spouts from these #whales to show up nicely and hang in the air forever.
Although we had been seeing scattered By-The-Wind Sailor jellies (aka, Purple Sailors, Velella velella) all day, Captain Dave eventually put the Condor Express on a vast field of these cnidarians north of Platform Hillhouse. There were acres of these little living disks and in some places where the wind did its magic, the animals were packed tightly together to form what looked like a raft of living bubbles. Dave was on the PA and mentioned that ocean sunfish (Mola mola) eat these jellies and a second later a large fish appeared within the raft and was selecting the prime cutlets from the stock. Wow!  Website
4/20/15 - 2 Gray whale mother-calf pairs and a really BIG pod of dolphins
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Captain Eric lead one trip out of Santa Barbara Harbor today and it was a doosy. Although we had sunny skies for this trip, it stated out a wee tad cool due to a nice breeze from the west, but as the trip went on, the wind flopped out and it was genuinely fantastic. Four gray whales consisting of 2 mothers with their calves were watched, as well as about 2,500 long-beaked common dolphins.
12 noon. ..... We ran all the way up the kelp line to the Goleta Pier were we intercepted our first pair of gray #whale mothers and calves. We followed along up to Campus Point having had wonderful looks the whole time. At one point the pair altered its course by 90° and headed straight for the Condor Express. Although the pair was still a good 100 yards away from a line of kelp growing on the Goleta Pier Sewer Pipe in very murky water with less than 10 foot horizontal visibility, they somehow “sensed” or “knew” about this obstacle and took the radical detour way before they were within underwater visual range. Food for thought regarding gray whale navigation, eh wot?
We next ran offshore and located a massive herd of long-beaked common #dolphins that was at least one mile long and moving east. Instead of being a wide and randomly dispersed pod, or a tightly packed mega-pod, it was a very long frontal line sweeping across the water. They did show good interest in the boat so it was really fun.
Later we’d find another pod closer to the shore with about 100 animals, and that was just prior to us spotting yet another gray whale mother and calf about 1.3 miles off the Mesa.  Website
4/20/15 - Two nice coastal excursions with plenty of marine mammals
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Captain Eric once again took charge of the mighty Condor Express and had two great whale watching trips today with a total of 6 gray whales, 200 long-beaked common dolphins and 50 Pacific white-sided dolphins.
9am. ..... Four gray whales which consisted of 2 mothers and their calves. The calves got frisky. There were bubble blasts, kelp rolls, and spy-hops galore. The fan club on the Condor loved every minute. Later we accompanied 200 or so long-beaked common dolphins as they did their thang (rode bow, rode side wake and surfed the stern waves.
12 noon. ..... One gray whale cow-calf pair with nice surface time and great looks. Later we encountered about 50 Pacific white-sided dolphins.
The weather was good, sea conditions good and a lot of fun was had by all.  Website
4/16/15 - It Must Be Spring: Mothers and Babies of all Kinds Today
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Mothers and Calves Day must have been declared in the Santa Barbara Channel today because we had the good fortune to see the following mothers with their calves: humpback whales, gray whales, and long-beaked common dolphins. It must be Spring… punctuated by the fact that we saw the same pair of mother and calf long-beaked common dolphins all by themselves, away from the main pod, on both trips.
9 AM ..... We escaped the moderate irregular wind swells from the west Channel by running east. The further we went east, the nicer things got. Our first mammal sighting away from the Harbor was the aforementioned cow-calf pair of common dolphins near Ty Warner’s estate. As we moved further offshore and eastward we came upon several hot spots filled with #dolphins, sea lions and various sea birds. We estimated at least 250 long-beaked common dolphins here. Interesting side note: our first Velella velella (Purple Sailors) of the Spring were floating in this area too. About 6 or 7 miles south of Rincon we encountered another 100 or so common dolphins. Finally, we ended the morning show with some GREAT looks at a mother humpback whale and her calf.
12 Noon ..... Having seen no gray whales on the morning trip, Captain Dave decided to head west into the swells, which had subsided just a bit. We intercepted a quad pod of gray #whales off Leadbetter Beach and stayed with them past Hope Ranch. It was a pair of mother gray whales and their calves. They were very photogenic especially using the nearby beaches as their backdrop. A long visit later we turned offshore and almost immediately our eagle-eyed deckhand Augie found another wide area containing at least 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins. We followed and played until we found ourselves southeast of the Harbor and running short on time. What a fantastic day !  Website
4/12/15 - Cetaceans of all kinds on a sunny, calm day.
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Captain Eric was at the helm again today and this time he steered the mighty Condor Express on two excursions: 9am and 12 noon. Calm seas, very light breeze at times, sunny and warm: a great day for marine mammal watching.
9 AM ..... West of Santa Barbara Harbor we found a pod of at least 25 Pacific white-sided dolphins mixed with California sea lions that were very friendly with the Condor Express. Speaking of friendly, the next dolphin species to do a “ride-along” was the bottlenose dolphins and we had 5 in shallow water play with us. Off Leadbetter we found the last species of the morning, a mother and calf gray whale pair.
Noon ..... 6 or 7 bottlenose #dolphins greeted us as we departed the Harbor, and we stayed with this pod until 2 gray #whales migrated through our path. The gray’s led us west and up near the Goleta Pier we found 50 or more Pacific white-siders (also known as Lags) spread out over a wide area with lots of California sea lions. We next took a loop offshore 5 miles or so and located a very active humpback whale. It breached several times, slapped its tail and did all this within close visual range of the boat.  Website
4/11/15 - Gray Whale Calves and More !
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We ran two trips today, 9am and 12 noon. There was a light breeze with periods of glassy water all day long. The high clouds kept the air temperature moderate, and the filtered sun made it nice to view the marine mammals.
At 9am we located 3 gray whales south of Santa Barbara Harbor and they turned out to be a mother and her calf plus one additional adult whale. We followed along and got great looks. About that time we encountered a wide swath of ocean with at least 100 Pacific white-sided dolphins that came over and rode every inch of energy we put into the ocean, bow, sides, and stern. After a short while we next located a small and scattered pod of about 25 long-beaked common dolphins. Nice to see two dolphin species and three different cetaceans on a single excursion. The trip ended as we ran back towards the beach from dolphin heaven only to re-locate the same 3 gray whales we started the trip with. Life is circular at times.
The noon adventure began with about 500 long-beaked common #dolphins about a mile or so south of Shoreline Park. Fun and games did abound as these animated beasts really put on a show for our cruise ship Star Princess passengers. After a great amount of enjoyable time with these smaller cetaceans we ran east to test the waters and before long we encountered 3 gray whales. Similar to the group dynamics we found on the morning trip, this, too, was a mother gray whale and her calf plus another #whale. These three made at least two passes very close to the Condor Express as we put everything in neutral and drifted along. Wow! Fabulous sighting.  Website
4/5/15 - Four different cetacean species today
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Captain Dave found northbound juvenile gray whales on all three trips today. It was sunny and nice but with a small bump from the winds blowing far to the west. In total, 7 gray whales were watched today and as a special bonus, three different species of dolphins were around the Condor Express for a total of 4 species of cetaceans. Any day with that kind of cetacean diversity is a great day to be in the Santa Barbara Channel. Here is the detailed account:
9am. 2 gray #whales, 100 long-beaked common dolphins, and a special guest appearance by 75 or so Pacific white-sided dolphins that surfed our wake for quite a while.
12 noon. 2 gray whales, 75 long-beaked common #dolphins and a bonus interaction with 6 coastal bottlenose dolphins.
3pm. 3 grays and at least 300 long-beaked commons up near UCSB.  Website
4/4/15 - Gray whales, humpback whales and 2 species of dolphins
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It was another fine day in the Santa Barbara Channel today. We ran a noon trip and a 3 pm adventure, and had good sightings on both. At noon we located two northbound gray whales up near the lighthouse. It was two juveniles and good looks were had by all. The #whales led us into a pod of 50 or so long-beaked common dolphins which, naturally played around the boat per usual. Later, to the east of the Harbor, we found a nice group of 6 coastal bottlenose #dolphins, which made three different cetacean species on the early afternoon trip.
By 3 pm there was a bit of chop and wind to the west, so Captain Dave took the Condor Express east to the Flats, and before long we were watching a mother humpback whale and her calf. At one point there was bait on the surface (as indicated by the sea lions and birds) and the whales lunge-fed into the hot spot. What a great show!   Website
4/3/15 - Another great day full of cetaceans
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Today we ran two trips into the cetacean paradise we call the Santa Barbara Channel. It was a bright and sunny day with a light breeze and a moderate sea from winds far to the west. At noon, Captain Dave spotted a gray whale simultaneously with deck hand Eric just east of the harbor entrance buoy. Strangely, this whale was heading east. It had long down times, some nearly 13 minutes, but its surface time was close to the Condor Express and we had great looks. Unbeknownst to us at the time we would encounter this same whale again at the end of the noon trip and we’d find it leaving large sediment plumes on the surface. Was it feeding in the 50 foot depths? …scratching the bottom to remove parasites? We’ve seen (and I’ve photographed) a few such sediment plumes near gray whales on the northbound migration this season.
Our next significant sighting was a pair of gray #whales about a mile south of the breakwater. The pair swam side by side and headed directly into the on-coming swells. Soon we located a wide spread group of at least 150 long-beaked common dolphins that were engaged in feeding on balls of anchovies that we could see from the boat. The trip ended, as you already know, by locating the same whale we started with.
The 3pm adventure took us west of the harbor as we followed two young gray whales heading to Alaska. They had regular habits and were great to watch. Soon the gray whales brought us near a hot spot with birds diving, California sea lions jumping, and at least 75 Pacific white-sided #dolphins. Everyone was feeding on the anchovies that were massed in this spot. It was a semi-National Geographic moment.  Website
4/2/15 - All sorts of fun cetaceans on a sunny day
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April was not fooling around with us today. Each and every one of our three 2½ coastal trips were spectacular, but the first two were the best. Captain Eric was at the helm and deckhand Tasha was on the binoculars. ’nuff said.
The 9am trip found a moderate short interval bump coming down the Santa Barbara Channel from gale force winds far to the west. A light breeze was blowing but the sun was out and a sweatshirt was all you really needed. Tasha located our first northbound gray whale off Hendry’s, and it was travelling very close to shore and had long down times. Our attention was soon drawn to a wide-spread pod of at least 100 Pacific white-sided #dolphins. They appeared to be feeding on little balls of anchovies that we could see here and there. All the white-sided sightings this week (and today) have found them mixed with very active California sea lions (acting like dolphins). We found another single gray whale off Hope Ranch and had good looks. As we made our way slowly back towards Santa Barbara Harbor we had a nice interplay with 12 coastal bottlenose dolphins, and soon thereafter, about 100 long-beaked common dolphins. That made a total of 4 different species of cetaceans on the morning trip.
At noon we located 300 or so long-beaked common dolphins about 2 miles straight out of the Harbor, and exactly at the same time and place, a single gray whale. Then it happened. The dolphins seemed to elicit rolling, and upside-down swimming by the gray whale, and it even spy hopped a few times while still on its back. There were lots of mother-cow pairs in this common dolphin pod. A short while later we had another 150 individual pod of common dolphins. We headed down-swell to the East and offshore from Summerland we found a pair of gray whales, one of which was breaching (at least 8 or 10 times) and spyhopping very close to the Condor Express. We followed this pair and had nice looks even after the acrobatics calmed down. The trip ended with about 30 or so Pacific-white sided dolphins mixed with California sea lions which we located and watched off East Beach.
The 3pm adventure took us east to avoid the wind and swell that had kicked up in the later afternoon. We eventually located and watched a nice gray whale, but it was a challenge with the oncoming seas that gave us a little rock and roll music. The whale ran into the kelp bed near the Coral Casino and then out again. It was a nice whale on a moderately uncomfortable ocean.  Website



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