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

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

    During normal business hours

Location Type:

Languages Spoken:

    Outdoor Location

Handicapped Accessible?

    Some restrictions

Cell Phones?

Cameras/Recording Equip.?

Pets Allowed?

Gift Certificates?
    Available for Sale

Classes Offered?

 Recent News & Buzz!!
11/25/15 - get your tickets for ... "Parade of Lights" Cruise on the Condor Express -- 12/6
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Spectators will cheer on the 25-30 participating boats as they parade out of the Santa Barbara Harbor, then along the shoreline down to East Beach. A fireworks display will follow right after the boat parade. Enjoy the Parade of Lights aboard the Condor Express - departing Sea Landing at 5 PM and returning to Sea Landing dock around 8 PM. You’ll have the best seats in the house inside the cabin or out on either deck! Enjoy your favorite beverage along with complimentary appetizers while you cruise the parade route. The Condor will be right under the fireworks finale. Tickets are just $40 for adults, kids 12 & under just $20. For more information or ticket purchase visit the reservation page or call 805.882.0088.
Presented by ... Condor Express - SEA Landing
Venue ... SEA Landing - Condor Express  Website
11/20/15 - First Southbound Gray Whale
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It was another gorgeous day with sunny, warm skies and calm seas. Again the above-water visibility was spectacular and we could see spouts 8 miles away with binoculars. We saw 1 Minke whale, over 200 common dolphins, 4 humpback whales, and the show-stopper: 1 southbound gray whale.
The gray whale was small, perhaps a yearling, and is the first southbound gray whale we’ve seen this season. We were surprised to find it in the middle of the Santa Barbara Channel, migrating through a zone where we have been seeing a lot of humpback whales and Minke whales the past week or so. As if the presence of this early whale was not enough, it turned out to be exceedingly friendly and came very close to the side of the Condor Express several times and given the great water clarity, one could see the whole body easily. (See photograph above).
After an hour of following this young gray whale east in the Channel, we moved to see some of the multiple humpback whale spouts that were all around us. At 12 noon we came up on our first two humpbacks, and one of them almost immediately spouted right next to the boat and then passed directly under for all its fans to see. A Minke whale was also found on patrol here. After 40 minutes or so of great looks, a small pod of 50 or so long-beaked common dolphin meandered through the whale area and there were lots of calves among them.
Near 100pm we moved to look at another pair of humpback whales that seemed to have longer surface times. Again it was not long until the pair came right up to the boat for a look. On our way home we encountered a larger pod of common dolphins, perhaps 150.  Website
11/19/15 - Dolphins and whales are languid
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All the mammals were languid on this summer-like day in the Santa Barbara Channel. We watched 2 different pods of common dolphins, one just outside the Harbor and another much later in the trip, with a total of at least 125 animals. Both pods were logging and milling around on the glassy surface and could be seen clearly in the good visibility of the green-blue offshore water. No dolphin was in a rush.
We also had a close and friendly visit from a small Minke whale, and it moved alongside the Condor Express at a calm speed…no particular rush…and gave us great looks at its two surface intervals.
Captain Dave also steered us into the humpback whale zone which deckhand “ojos del águila” Auggie located through the binoculars. (How does he do it day after day?) There were at least 7 humpback whales today, in groups of two and some swimming solo. All the whales were moving at a slow and steady pace to the east, and there were no tricks or antics in their behavioral repertoire today. One migrated alongside the boat for a while and gave exceptional, but languid, looks.
It was a very relaxing excursion with calm seas, bright sun and fantastic above-water vistas. You could see from Bony ridge to the west end of Santa Rosa Island. The crew were spotting spouts 6 miles or so in the distance, thanks to our friend Dr. Mark for pointing us in the right direction ! The Condor Team was at work again. Relaxed dolphins, relaxed whales and very relaxed whale watchers too. Who could ask for more? Tomorrow promises to be very similar in terms of weather and ocean conditions, and we hope to see you on board !  Website
11/15/15 - Whales everywhere and 3 get friendly.
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Could it get any better? What a week it has been with drop dead gorgeous weather, clear air, clear water, and lots of friendly marine mammals. We were not even 20 minutes out of Santa Barbara Harbor when our friend Mason spotted the first of what would be a total of 9 humpback whales. This solo whale was heading west and traveling just beneath the surface…coming up for air only rarely.
Captain Dave moved the Condor Express a few more miles to the south where Mason had already lined up more wildlife for us. Here we found a little hot spot with very few sea birds, but it looked like the 3 friendly humpback whales we found here were diving deep and bringing up by-catch for the 500 or so long-beaked common dolphins and some California sea lions. Also on patrol in this region were 2 Minke whales, and both made close passes by the boat. The 3 humpbacks came by the boat several times then played under and around it. I would not necessarily call it a mugging, but it was an on-going very friendly encounter.
Just after noon we located 2 more humpback whales with long bottom times, and nearby was an active California sea lion shaking out a fish it had captured. It looked like it needed to make the morsel smaller so it could be swallowed whole, before a dozen or so gulls and a few brown pelicans stole the dinner. It’s always fun to check out another link in the dynamic food web of the Santa Barbara Channel.
Around 1:00pm we found 3 more humpback whales with additional spouts both east and west of our location. One of these whales breached, or more accurately, did a belly-slap, twice very close to the boat. Later we meandered through a very sanguine pod of around 750 additional long-beaked common dolphins.  Website
11/11/15 - Two Humpbacks MUG Condor Express
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You could see from Bony Ridge to the east all the way out to San Miguel Island to the west and every island in between. There was bright sun with a very light breeze, and that famous Santa Barbara cobalt clear water was abundant in the mid-Santa Barbara Channel zones.
About 15 minutes out of Santa Barbara Harbor we saw one single long-beaked common dolphin jumping around all by itself. Later, as we moved into the southbound shipping lanes, we had about 100 more dolphins. But today’s excursion was all about the two friendly humpbacks that mugged us for nearly 2 hours. One was a large whale, naturalist Paul estimated at least 55 feet in length, and the other whale was much smaller.
Today’s muggage got started when we arrived in the area to investigate 2 spouts that a sharp-eyed passenger from Simi Valley had located. The 2 humpbacks under the spouts made a bee-line to the Condor Express. They swam up one side and down the other. Then it was under the boat together and separately. Many spy hops very close to the passengers, and virtually no one on the lower deck (and many on the sun deck) did not escape being sprayed down with whale breath. There was also a bit of rolling around and going upside down, mostly by the larger of the two humpbacks.
Both whales had white pectoral flukes and the larger of the two had a small notch in its dorsal fin. It was a spectacular sight to see.  Website
11/9/15 - 5 Friendly Humpback Whales
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Captain Eric found a total of 5 humpback whales today. Three of the whales were along the 300-foot depth curve and they were friendly, spending a good amount of their surface intervals next to (and under) the Condor Express. There were two more single humpback whales sighted later to bring the total to 5.
Sea conditions were good with light winds and very clear Santa Barbara cobalt water plus a small swell from the west.  Website
10/29/15 - Animated humpback is an entangled whale
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A glorious day that started out overcast with spots of virga here and there, but got very hot, sunny and windy as the day progressed. Water temperature was a nice 70°F, and it was very clear.
The cetacean sighting of the day was a single, small humpback whale that we found about 3 miles south of Santa Barbara because it was breaching and slapping its pectoral fins. When we arrived on the scene the whale breached every time it dove, except when it rolled around and slapped its pectorals. We watched this whale for quite a while, and after 45 minutes or so it got on a long dive, short surface interval pattern with only a few pect slaps and one more breach. After a surface interval, again 45 minutes into this animal, Captain Dave spotted a polypropylene line with floats attached. The line was moving through the water and we soon deduced that the very active breaching and slap-happy whale was entangled.
This put us on a mission to gather as much evidence as possible so the local NOAA disentanglement team might have as the data they need to activate a response and perhaps free the whale. In a nut shell, the entanglement appears to be through the mouth. There are open wounds across the back and at the base of the left pectoral fin. The trailing line is very long, maybe 200 feet, with two floats and then another 25 or 30 feet of line.
A smaller boat, a Boston Whaler, was dispatched to keep following this whale, as the Condor Express finally broke off and went out to deeper (and rougher) waters to find more marine life. We watched 2 more humpback whales closely, with many more spouts all around, but it was too rough and windy to get around to all of them.  Website
10/22/15 - Giant kelp in crystal clear water
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I don’t usually report on private trips, but today was so unique I had to do it. It was a private charter with biologists from the Marine Science Institute, UCSB on board. We ran up the coast a few miles to Mohawk Reef and met up with divers on board the “Kelpfish” who transferred some kelp samples and specimens to the touch tanks that were brought on board. The biologists each gave a summary of their current research then enjoyed both the touch tank and the extremely clear Santa Barbara cobalt water that had moved in to the kelp beds and nearshore waters. Deck hand Eric measured the SST today in the kelp and it was 73.4°F.
Captain Dave ran slowly through the giant kelp and commercial lobster trap hardware so everyone could clearly see the bottom topography, the kelp stipes and fronds, schools of grunion, and a few of the lobster traps themselves situated on the sea floor. In shallower water we passed across reefs with abundant surf grass beds.
It was hot and sunny with only a slight breeze from the northeast. There was a male and a female juvenile California spiny lobster from the touch tank, plus a bat star with 6 arms (instead of 5), and some other typical rock reef and kelp bed invertebrates.  Website
10/20/15 - Humpbacks in the Wind
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Cruise ship passengers left the mother boat and went for a ride on the Condor Express with moderate wind and sea conditions today. The heavy breeze and swells limited our range to the northern regions and eastward. A total of 4 humpbacks were watched, and, as mentioned in yesterdays’ report, when the seas kick up, so do the humpbacks. At least that is our theory and we don’t have anything but our own home-spun anecdotal evidence.
Several very close and friendly visits including under-boat swims in clear cobalt water along with breaching right off the stern topped of this very adventurous excursion.  Website
10/18/15 - A tale of two humpback sightings
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Captain Eric and his crew took the Condor Express south to an area rich with marine activity including 10 humpback whales and at least 750 long-beaked common dolphins. After a nice session with these cetaceans Eric moved further offshore, ran along The Ledge for quite a while searching for additional species, then turned around. On the way home the Condor Express passed through the same hot spot with the same humpbacks and dolphins, but this time the activity level was ramped-up a notch. The humpback whales were breaching and slapping their tails and generally more excited than they were an hour earlier. Sea conditions were good and the sightings were fantastic.  Website
10/14/15 - Condor Express Humpback Whale Honor Roll
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For the most part it was an overcast kind of day in the Santa Barbara Channel. We left the Harbor at 1030am with our cruise ship whale watchers and ran into patchy fog. Later the fog lifted to reveal clouds moving in as rain is once again in the forecast for tonight. Seas were very calm albeit with a little tiny chop. Cobalt clear waters persist.
Captain Dave and ojos del águila Auggie quickly located a small feeding aggregation of marine life about 7 miles south of the Harbor. Although most of the prey schools were beneath the surface, once or twice they came up as we saw a few instances of vertical surface lunge feeding by 7 humpback whales. The by-catch of this lunging provided an incentive for long-beaked common dolphins (they were with us all day and we saw at least 1,500 of them) and various sea birds (black-vented shearwaters, gulls, a few brown pelicans, and some elegant terns) to create a scene. Three of these initial 7 whales are on the Condor Express Humpback Whale Honor Roll: Rope, Top Notch and Scarlet were all there feeding on what is left of the anchovy population. There was also a 4th whale we see all the time that has the tip of its left tail fluke missing. We have not named it yet, but I’m thinking we’ll call it “TFTM” (tail fluke tip missing) and add it to the Condor Express Humpback Whale Honor Roll immediately. (see photograph above)
Oddly enough many of the dolphins slapped their tails loudly on the surface and this behavior went on the whole time we were with them. Many smaller-than-football-sized “Tom Brady” dolphin calves were in the pod. Taking a cue from the dolphins, there were also a couple of unanticipated, random and singleton tale throws by humpback whales too, as well as two “out of the blue” breaches.
Later, on our way back to the Harbor via offshore oil and gas Platform C and Dave’s always professional introduction to the offshore oil and gas habitat in the Channel, we found another humpback whale because it breached (once) making our whale total 8 for the day.  Website
10/9/15 - El Niño and Humpback Whales
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Captain Dave was barely 20 minutes out of Santa Barbara Harbor when our world-famous “ojos del águila” deckhand Auggie spotted the first of 6 humpback whales we’d visit with today. It was an adult whale and hard to keep up with as it was moving fast to the south. Fifteen minutes later we found out why as humpbacks were coming together from distances far and wide to get on a very active hot spot full of northern anchovies. The bait fish were on the surface and before long we witnessed several of the whales surface lunge feeding. Mixed in the hot spot were the usual suspects: long-beaked common dolphins (we had about 600 today), California sea lions, and various sea birds such as brown pelicans, gulls and black-vented shearwaters. It was an utterly fun pandemonium. Organized chaos. Oh, and did I mention that there were at least 2 Minke whales also feeding on this hot spot?
Around an hour later the bait had diffused and all the activity shut down like somebody flipped a switch. Captain Dave took us south towards The Ledge and Santa Cruz Island. It was very calm and glassy all morning and El Niño brought us 71°F surface temperatures as well as that super-clear Santa Barbara cobalt water. Several of the previous humpback whales as well as the next two which I will describe for you made friendly approaches to the boat. Due to the El Niño water, one could see the entire body of the whale while it was still underwater. El Niño and humpback whales. What a great combo.
Later in the trip Captain Dave and Auggie located 2 additional whales which gave us a total of 6 today. One was friendly and made a long, slow, very close pass down our starboard side. It was an epic El Niño day.  Website
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.  Website
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.  Website
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.  Website
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.  Website
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.  Website
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.  Website
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

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