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,

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

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    Cash,   MasterCard,   Visa,  Debit Card,  

    During normal business hours

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Languages Spoken:

    Outdoor Location

Handicapped Accessible?

    Some restrictions

Cell Phones?

Cameras/Recording Equip.?

Pets Allowed?

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 Recent News & Buzz!!
10/7/15 - Humpback Fun
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Today we hosted a boat load of cruise ship whale lovers that hopped off one boat (a big one) and stepped directly onto the Condor Express. Both the weather and the sea conditions were superb and I think it was one of the nicest days we’ve had in a week or so. Captain Dave took the helm and steered a course for the last known sector of our previous whale sightings. Along the route two things happened before we found humpbacks. First, we had a 6 or 7 foot hammerhead shark pass directly alongside the boat. Strangely, the fish appeared to be carrying a stipe of bull kelp in its mouth. Thanks to “ojos del águila” Auggie for spotting this animal. Second, Auggie also spotted two pods of long-beaked common dolphins with about 1,200 animals total. Dave ran east for a while with these little cetaceans and everyone got to see the tiny calves in the pod.
Around 1220 Dave spotted our first of 7 humpback whales. This beast was accompanied by a mob of about 30 California sea lions that dove when it dove, and surfaced once or twice until the whale came up. My unsubstantiated hypothesis is that the larger lung volume of the whale could out last the smaller lungs of the sea lions in a breath-holding contest.
About 20 minutes later ojos del águila found a region with 6 humpback whales and probably more in the area. Great looks were had by all. At one point two of the whales came right over to the starboard side of the Condor Express to take a look at their fan club. The water is still Santa Barbara cobalt and clear, so this encounter was even more magical.
10/4/15 - White-Sided Dolphins
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The wildlife moved north about 15 miles from where we had it yesterday and that was a good thing for a couple of reasons. First, it was close to home and we could spend more time with the animals, and second, the sea conditions were much nicer near shore. Deckhand “ojo del águila” Auggie spotted spouts about 20 minutes out of the Harbor. Here we found 5 out of the 6 humpback whales that we would watch for over 2 hours. Mixed in the humpbacks were 4 Minke whales and at least 20 Pacific white-sided dolphins. Several of the humpback whales came over and swam under the Condor Express in that cobalt clear water we’ve been having. One whale breached, a single random act, near the boat.
The white-sided dolphins were Chris Matthews fans and were playing “hardball.” Actually they did not spend any time on the surface or come play with the boats as it appeared they were feeding most of the day.
Later in the trip we found at least an acre of very small rockfish dead and floating on the surface. It looks like by-catch from a bottom trawler that got shoveled over the side. Lucky us. The humpbacks, Minkes and white-sided dolphins were fantastic, and the day was a huge amount of fun.
10/1/15 - Four Humpback Whales Including a Mother and Calf
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September goes out with a big bang. Like yesterday, only worse, the strong winds and seas from the west made the spout-finding navigation a challenge for Captain Dave and his skilled crew. It was not dangerous, but is may have been a bit uncomfortable for those susceptible. Dave knew there was a hot spot (from yesterday) up on The Ledge at Santa Rosa, but he also knew there was no making any headway on that course. Putting his faith in his decades on the ocean and a lot of trust in Mother Nature, Dave took the Condor Express east and put the winds and swells behind the boat. Think surfing USA on an 85-foot twin hull surfboard.
Before long there were at least four humpback whales including a mother and calf. Likewise two Minke whales were spotted and one of them surfed the swells right alongside the Condor. What a sight. Little pods of long-beaked common dolphins were scattered here and there and, of course, watching them surf the big open ocean waves is always a treat. The four humpback whales including a mother and calf stole the show.
9/29/15 - Humpbacks in the Wind - Kelping
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The afternoon breeze that was predicted by NOAA arrived early and the whole day was filled with a magnificent wind and moderately choppy seas. But with a water temperature of 72.3°F, it was refreshing, not cold. Captain Dave steered a course for the hot spot which was so productive yesterday, a few miles north of Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Island. Upon reaching the numbers our sharp-eyed deckhand Tasha found spouts a few miles ahead to the west. How does she do this with all the whitecaps around?
Sure enough, although the spot was not as “hot” as yesterday in terms of active feeding, bait near the surface, and so forth, it did yield 5 humpbacks with more in the area, and a huge mega-pod of at least 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins as well. Shearwaters and California sea lions were also abundant, but not seen feeding on the surface.
Many of the humpbacks approached the Condor Express, and their entire bodies could be seen in the clear water through the swells. We were sitting along an oceanic front and there were numerous drifting giant kelp paddies all over. During our observation period, just about every whale had a session or two of kelping. No stipe or frond was safe around the whales today. Another one of the most magnificent sights on a day when seas are running is watching humpbacks in the wind. They bust head first through the on-coming waves and minutes later ride them down hill as if surfing.
9/28/15 - Hot Spot at Santa Cruz Island
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Captain Eric did an extensive search of the marine mammal populations in the Santa Barbara Channel with (once again) spectacular conditions. It was a beautiful and relaxing cruise looking at the cobalt blue water and calm seas while wafting the mild breeze until Eric located a hot spot at Santa Cruz Island. This was just north of the west end and featured thousands of sea birds, hundreds of California sea lions, 5 humpback whales and at least 750 long-beaked common dolphins. The whales spent a lot of time on the surface and there were several very close and friendly approaches. It was as if all the marine life in the Channel was taking part in the hot spot at Santa Cruz Island.
9/26/15 - Humpback, a Mako and some Dolphins
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A report from Captain Dave and the crew of the Condor Express tells us that there were ideal wildlife-watching conditions again today in the Santa Barbara Channel. At the start of the excursion, Dave took the boat southwest and ended up approximately mid-Channel and off Platform Holly. Sunny skies, clear cobalt water, no wind…all added up to a great day. There was one humpback whale and about 150 long-beaked common dolphins in the zone. The whale had 14-minute down times on average, and was watched through about 4 breathing cycles.
A squadron of 4 ocean sunfish (Mola mola) were observed imitating the US Navy Blue Angels as they formed a diamond pattern in the blue. Again, great looks were had by all. Next up on the itinerary was Dave’s interpretation of the history, geology and paleontology of Santa Cruz Island which featured a trip inside the mouth of the world-famous Painted Cave.
On the way home a single 6-foot Mako shark was seen in the clear water cruising along the surface. It was a good solid cruise today with a humpback, a Mako and some dolphins.
Upon arriving back at the dock, Dave and the crew had to relax, gargle and put warm towels on their throats in preparation for tonight’s special Condor Express Opera Cruise, the 2nd such cruise this year.
9/25/15 - Opera Cruise Final Boarding -- A Taste of Opera On The Condor Express! (Saturday)
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A Unique Event With Flavors and Songs From Italy and Spain. You and 100 other lucky passengers will be serenaded under a full moon by international opera star Eduardo Villa. This former Principal Artist with the New York Metropolitan Opera will sing a host of classic arias such as “Nessun Dorma” and “O Sole Mio,” along with lighter tunes such as “That’s Amore,” “Volare,” and many others. Italian and Spanish dishes will be prepared by the tenor himself. A limited number of spaces remain available. Reservations: Call Sea Landing (805)963-3564.
Presented by ... Condor Express - SEA Landing
Venue ... Condor Express- SEA Landing  Website
9/23/15 - A whole lot of dolphins
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Captain Dave took the Condor Express down to the eastern Channel first thing this morning and had a whole lot of long-beaked common dolphins, perhaps 2,000 or so. That is a whole lot of dolphins. Next he ran the Lanes back west to West Point, Santa Cruz Island and located the first of his 3 humpback whales. Continuing west later, the 2 more additional humpback whales were sighted.
Conditions were nice with clear water and sunny skies. A good look at a big fat ocean sunfish (Mola mola) rounded out the day. Certainly the dolphins were among the most spectacular sightings today.  Website
9/18/15 - A humpback, a fin and 2 blue whales
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It was a sunny day with moderate winds and seas offshore, and nicer conditions closer to the beach. Captain Dave took the Condor Express out to the Lanes and on the way our first sighting was a 3 – 4 foot hammerhead shark. The fish circled the boat and was not shy.
Out in the Lanes the first big cetacean spotted was a nice humpback whale and good looks were had by all. Next up was a medium-sized fin whale, not as large as the one we watched yesterday. It was fairly friendly and, again, great looks were had. Finally, two giant blue whales came into the zone and Dave followed at a safe distance alongside, and the whale fans were thrilled.
While watching all these whales in the commercial shipping lanes, the Matson 263-meter container cargo ship Mahimahi was on a track through the whale zone, heading first to LA Harbor and then to the Hawaiian Islands. Dave and the captain spoke on the VHF radio and the captain of the big boat willingly altered his course to avoid any possible collisions. A new spirit of cooperation has been in effect as everyone does their best to save the whales. This was a great component of a day which brought us a humpback, a fin and 2 blue whales.  Website
9/17/15 - Nice Variety of Cetaceans
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We barely had our bow out of Santa Barbara Harbor when Captain Dave spun the Condor Express around and we followed a dozen inshore bottlenose dolphins down east and through the boat anchorage. There were a few calves in the pod, and we watched all of these dolphins for 15 or 20 minutes, but they swam up within a few feet of the beach where it was too shallow for even the Condor to run. This was to be the start of a nice variety of cetaceans today.
Sea conditions were not looking good as it was a bit windy and choppy plus a nice squall just dumped rain all over Santa Barbara. But as we pushed offshore to the south, conditions actually improved and the rest of the day was sunny and fairly calm. Our second stop found us south of the Lanes and a few miles north of Santa Cruz Island. Deckhand (and second Captain) Eric saw “a tall spout,” which turned out to be one of two blue whales we followed today.
The first blue whale was small, perhaps only a few years old, but gave us spectacular looks in the Santa Barbara cobalt clear water and bright sun. Soon we moved from the whale species that is the largest in the world to a rather large fin whale, the second largest species of whale. The fin whale was a big adult and much larger than the little blue we first followed. Next a second blue, a medium large individual, showed up and we were surrounded by very large cetaceans.
Our nice variety of cetaceans also included watching a pod of at least 50 offshore bottlenose dolphins. These offshore cousins of the dolphins we saw in the surf zone are much larger and more active. What a treat !  Website
9/15/15 - Day of the Dolphins
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Three nice rain squalls featured light precipitation got the boat a little bit wet today as remnants of tropical storm Linda sent us some well-needed moisture. Seas were very calm and the water was both crystal clear and warm (the local NOAA buoy showed 72°F at 600 am). We watched long-beaked common dolphins all day, and today was certainly the day of the dolphins.
Captain Eric took the Condor Express to the far southeastern Santa Barbara Channel in hopes of finding larger cetaceans, but it was not to happen. In addition to the rain squalls and all the dolphins, we sighted 5 Minke whales and had repeated looks at several of them. Deck hand Auggie also used a gaff to retrieve a 5-gallon plastic bucket that was floating mid-Channel.  Website
9/9/15 - Reserve now! ... Opera Cruise with Eduardo Villa on the Condor Cruise -- 9/26
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A Unique Event With Flavors and Songs From Italy and Spain. You and 100 other lucky passengers will be serenaded under a full moon by international opera star Eduardo Villa. This former Principal Artist with the New York Metropolitan Opera will sing a host of classic arias such as “Nessun Dorma” and “O Sole Mio,” along with lighter tunes such as “That’s Amore,” “Volare,” and many others. Italian and Spanish dishes will be prepared by the tenor himself. A limited number of spaces remain available. Reservations: Call Sea Landing (805)963-3564.
Presented by ... Condor Express - SEA Landing
Venue ... Condor Express- SEA Landing  Website
9/7/15 - Humpbacks, Common Dolphins and a Blue Whale
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Captain Eric is in command for this Labor Day holiday weekend, and today he left the harbor under sunny skies and only a small swell. Although he set a course for the west, it was not long before there was a nice encounter with 50 long-beaked common dolphins in crystal Santa Barbara cobalt clear water.
Continuing on his course, about 7 miles offshore the first 2 of 8 total humpback whales were observed. They had 12 minute down times but came up to the surface very close to the Condor Express a few times. Again, the blue water enhanced the underwater views.
Moving on out to The Lanes, here there were 6 more humpback whales, again with long down times, but 2 of the swam under the boat and left a distinct bubble trail in the cobalt clear ocean. Very nice and a bit unusual as well.
Continuing on a bit parallel to Santa Cruz Island, Eric and the crew located a single and very friendly blue whale. This beast came close to the boat on several occasions.
On the way home, we encountered the same group of humpback whales again, but this time one of them breached 14 times, some within 150 yards of the boat. It slapped its pectorals and did a bit of kelping too.
So in the end we had humpbacks, common dolphins and a blue whale today.  Website
9/3/15 - Three Blue Whales
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Our first stop this morning came just as the sun broke through the morning marine layer at 1050 am. Captain Dave found an area with 6 humpback whales and more than 300 long-beaked common dolphins. Most of these whales were very cooperative about fluking-up. After a good long observation of these animals, Dave pointed the Condor Express south towards Santa Cruz Island.
At high noon we found ourselves about 4 miles north of the Island when our good friend Dr. Mark spotted a very tall spout. One spout eventually led to three, and we found ourselves watching three blue whales. The bright sun and exceptionally clear Santa Barbara cobalt water really made these beasts show up so everyone could see their movements near and on the surface. The three blue whales were averaging 10 minutes down, and we watched through several breathing cycles before heading towards the world-famous Painted Cave.
As we drove along the edge of the steep sea cliffs of Santa Cruz Island on our way to the Cave, deck hand (and second captain) Eric spotted a huge bald eagle soaring along the wind rising up along the face of the cliffs. It’s been a while since we crossed paths with one of our endemic home-guard Santa Cruz Island baldies.
Finally, on the way home, around 145 pm, Dave found another humpback whale and we watched it for a while. That rounded-out the cetacean sightings for the day and it was fantastic.  Website
8/31/15 - Mother and Calf Humpback Whales and more
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Although the marine forecast was a bit dicey, in truth things were moderate at the start and just kept improving. Skies were sunny, the Santa Barbara cobalt water was almost everywhere, and the wind really never came up. Captain Eric, along with his “Eagle Eyes” deckhand Augie, located a pair of whales at 1045 am when we were about 6 miles off the coast of Hope Ranch. This was to be the first two whales of the five total observed today, and it was a mother humpback whale with here rather large (ready to be weaned?) calf. Initially there were no dolphins with this pair of whales, and the whales kept on a steady and brisk pace to the west.
We continued following our westward bound mother and calf humpback whales until, around 1145 am, we located another two individual humpbacks along with about 25 long-beaked common dolphins. At this point we were about 7 miles south of The Campus. We kept with these whales and dolphins until 1210 pm when Augie grabbed my old gaff and plucked a completely clear, old mylar balloon from the surface. These helium balloons, especially mylar, should be outlawed. (Personal opinion).
Before long, we were closely watching a trio of whales and two of them turned out to be the mother and calf humpback whales we watched at the start of the trip. These two had kept moving west and were now about 8 miles south of Naples. Several larger groups of common dolphins passed by and also played with the Condor Express, so our total for these smaller cetaceans was 325 for the day.
There were a few very nice close approaches by the whales and it was a terrific trip.  Website
8/30/15 - Stunning Views of Mother and Calf Humpbacks in Clear Water
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When you see the numbers of cetaceans sighted today, please remember that this was an 8-hour trip, almost double our typical 4.5-hour public whale watch. We charter-out the Condor Express about twice a year to the American Cetacean Society and its Los Angeles Chapter. They generally bring lots of good luck with them on their excursions.
It was a bright and sunny day, all day long, without even a hint of the fog monster. The sea surface had a moderate chop on it from high winds to the far west of the Santa Barbara Channel. The wind held off until 100 pm, and the water color was Santa Barbara cobalt out where the cetaceans were found.
Captain Dave wanted to run as far to the west Channel as he could, but this idea was soon thwarted by the seas AND by the spouts that our deck hand, Eagle-Eyed Augie, found right off the get go. Near these first humpback whales we also found one of a dozen or more oceanic hot spots full of seabirds, California sea lions and long-beaked common dolphins all working on various shapes and sizes of northern anchovy bait balls. One of the bait balls moved over, then under, the Condor Express trying to escape all the predators.
By the end of the trip we had watched over 25 different humpback whales with many more in the periphery. These knobby-headed beasts ran down the complete list of behaviors in their repertoire including dozens of single, random and totally unexpected full-body breaches…some near, some far. Other activities included a few pectoral fin slaps by one young breacher, some chin-lifts, various horizontal surface lunge feeding episodes, and some purposeful tail throws by two of the whales. Finally, there were numerous very close approaches to the Condor Express by these humpback whales. Some were bow-crossings, others were fly-by’s down one side or the other. There were stunning views of a mother and calf humpbacks in clear water.
We also had nice sightings on two Minke whales. The first was the better quality sighting as the whale ran alongside the boat, just under the surface of the water, and did 4 or 5 breaths in its cycle before sounding. Of course the crystal water clarity made it even more special.
We were surrounded my long-beaked common dolphins all day long in pods of a few dozen to a few hundred. By the end of the trip there was a consensus among the elders that we watched at least 2,500 during the trip.  Website
8/28/15 - Just announced! ... Sunset Reggae Party Cruise on Condor Express -- 9/5
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It’s all about fun, food and great live music with Legalizer. Legalizer is one of Southern California’s most creative Reggae bands. They keep you moving with tuff and innovative original Reggae and Dancehall while also jamming familiar crowd favorites. Come to the next show and check out the vibes! Every Ting Will Be Irie!! Cruise includes Jamaican appetizers. Reservations: Call Sea Landing (805)963-3564.
Presented by ... Condor Express - SEA Landing
Venue ... Condor Express- SEA Landing  Website
8/27/15 - Humpback Friendly Encounter
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Hot and foggy conditions ruled our section of the Santa Barbara Channel today but somehow Captain Dave managed to get everyone aboard the Condor Express great looks. Here are the totals: 7 Humpback whales, 1,000 long-beaked common dolphins.
I have no idea how Dave and his crew managed to see any cetaceans today, nevertheless get GREAT looks at them with the fog. This fog was on the ocean surface but did not extend too far up as we could just about always feel the hot sun and saw it if you looked straight up. However, viewing things in a normal manner, laterally, there was hardly any visibility ahead of the boat and Dave used the radar until things finally cleared up around 300pm.
The highlight of the excursion today was a humpback friendly encounter. A full-grown humpback whale came up right next to the boat and everyone had chills down their spine. We also saw our old pal “Rope” out in the middle of the Channel today.  Website
8/26/15 - Humpback and Dolphin Bonanza
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Captain Dave and his renowned crew, including Eagle-Eyed Augie and Big Steve, located several hot areas full of marine life today. It was a sunny, cloudless day, and hot when the boat slowed down. The mill pond glass surface lasted all day. Our first stop was to watch 100 or so long-beaked common dolphins around 1038 am. Quite a few little calves were mixed in with this pod, and one little beast took off by itself and zoomed all around the bow of the Condor Express before finding its mother again. Stretching out !
Moving west, by 1105 we were on another 600 long-beaked common #dolphins, one big, friendly Minke whale, and eventually (as we patrolled the zone) 10 humpback whales. One of the humpbacks was the same injured whale we saw last week that had two deep v-grooves in its tail stock. Late in the sighting, two humpbacks did some surface lunge feeding…always spectacular to see!
At noon we headed south for Santa Cruz Island and the world famous Painted Cave. It took about an hour to drive over there and do the tour, then we were “on the hunt” as we headed back across the Santa Barbara Channel. Twenty minutes later we had a region that produced 4 more humpback whales. One of the larger individuals did a bit of kelping which always thrills the vegetarians and carnivores alike. Another 500 dolphins kept the humpbacks company.
Our final sighting of the day was at 208 pm and 3 more humpbacks were sighted amidst several large pods of common dolphins, perhaps 750 total for this spot. The water was clear and the whales kicked up their flukes often in the bright sun. What more could any whale watcher want?  Website
8/18/15 - Loads of humpbacks, commons, a Minke plus offshores too
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Flat, calm and even glassy sea conditions returned to the Santa Barbara Channel making great whale watching possible. Skies remained cloudy with a thin marine layer until just after 100 pm. The following are total estimated numbers of individuals watched closely today: humpback whales = 14 (more in the area); Minke whale = 1; long-beaked common dolphins = 2,700; offshore bottlenose dolphins = 250.
The Minke sighting was early and it was a large and very cooperative animal. It maintained a straight course and surfaced regularly. A hundred or so common #dolphins were in the immediate area. We headed further offshore and about 45 minutes later followed 2 humpback whales, one of which fluked up on every dive, shallow or deep.
Further offshore and about 25 minutes later we watched 4 more humpback #whales and a few hundred common dolphins. Ten minutes after that we had another 3 humpbacks around the area. No special tricks were observed from the humpbacks today except for a few very close and friendly approaches to the Condor Express.
A nice visit to the western end of Santa Cruz Island accompanied Captain Dave’s narration and included a great visit to the world-famous Painted Cave. After the Cave tour we reversed course and started on a line towards Santa Barbara.
Around 110 pm and after we crossed the Lanes, deck hand (and 2nd Captain) Eric spotted a vast, 1-mile diameter region, with at least 250 offshore bottlenose dolphins spread out and feeding. They showed only a mild interest in the boat and went about their business.
Finally, about 4 miles offshore, we spotted a few more humpback whales and another 200 common dolphins to round out this fantastic day of cetacean watching.  Website

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