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

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

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

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

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

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    During normal business hours

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    Some restrictions

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 Recent News & Buzz!!
2/12/16 - Early Spring Whale Watching (3 trips/day) starts on Monday 2/15
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Every year, over 20,000 Pacific Gray Whales migrate through the Santa Barbara Channel on their way to and from the warm lagoons of lower Baja California, Mexico. Gray Whale spouts can reach up to 15 feet. They eat very little food during the migration. Males can reach up to 45’ in length and females up to 50’, weighing 30 to 35 tons. Tails can span up to 10’ wide. Grays travel over 10,000 miles annually. Newborn whales are 15’ long at birth and weigh about 2,000 pounds.
The Condor Express is now offering 3 trips daily, departing Sea Landing in the Santa Barbara Harbor at 9 a.m. Noon, and 3 PM daily. Rates for the gray whale trips are $50 for adults, and $30 for children 12 and under, 4 and under are complimentary. Advance reservations are advised.   Website
2/11/16 - Summerlike weather with humpback whales and a fin
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If I wasn’t peeking at the calendar, I swear I’d have no idea whatsoever what time of year it really is based on the weather and the whales. February is traditionally our coldest and most stormy month of the year. Coastal temperatures have been above 80F for about two weeks with no end in sight. The Santa Barbara Channel was buttery until noon when a very tiny wind from the west wafted through. As for marine mammals, this is the southbound gray whale migration with most of the population taking the “scenic route” out near the islands. Today, for the second trip in a row we did not find a single gray whale, but found loads of humpback whales (and one fin whale) instead. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining !
The trip started off with a bang as we encountered a long line of long-beaked common dolphins about 15 minutes after we cleared the harbor buoys. Given the glassy sea surface, this was a spectacular sighting because you could look down into the water and see what these little cetaceans were actually doing. Bow and stern waves provided ample opportunities for advanced body surfing.
About an hour later we were only a couple of miles north of Limuw, or Santa Cruz Island, as the Spaniards renamed it. Here we found two groups of humpback whales, a group of 3 and a group of two. There was a little kelping, a couple of close and friendly passes by the Condor Express, but long down times. Patience paid off.
After a good long time with the two groups of humpback whales we headed home. It was not long before Captain Dave had us dead in the water, mid-Channel, waiting for another great look and a big fin whale. Wow!  Website
2/6/16 - Another Super Pod of Gray Whales !
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These mild Santa Ana days are very special with their warmth, clear blue skies, and calm seas. And what a mind-blowing sighting we had just north of Chinese Harbor on Santa Cruz Island. It was amazing. Here are the details.
We ran for quite a while, heading due south, until we sighted our first marine mammals of the trip. It was a nice sized pod of long-beaked common dolphins with perhaps 250 in the group. We traveled with the pod and enjoyed each others’ company for a while before continuing our quest. We were in search of whales, tall spouts, humpbacks or grays, or who knows what else.
As we approached Santa Cruz Island it became obvious that many of the “tall spouts” we thought we saw from mid-Channel were, in fact, blow holes and large swells crashing against the rocky cliffs of this volcanic side of the island. Almost simultaneously our friend Sophie spotted a spout off our starboard side and not too far away (looking west).
When we got close enough to appreciate the sighting, it was a super pod of gray whales traveling in close proximity and diving/surfacing synchronously. We all took our best shot at estimating this roiling mass of cetacean flesh, and the best number we came up with for the pod size was “between 10 and 15.” Imagine so many large beasts packed together and you will see multiple spouts, tail flukes, and flanks all at the same time. There was a little, not much, rolling and snuggling and any other sort of mating behavior visible from the surface.
The super pod swam parallel to the island for a while then trended to the northwest…out into deeper water. At one point the super pod abruptly changed course and swam right at the Condor Express. We could see the blue bodies of 2 or 3 of them glowing clearly under the water. Within seconds the entire pod came to the surface just off the bow of our stationary, dead in the water boat. We all had the chills.
On the way home Captain Dave slowed down again for a dolphin pod of about 75, making our total for the trip approximately 325.  Website
2/4/16 - Humpbacks, Gray Whales and Dolphins (and sun!)
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Total sightings for the day included 4 humpback whales (1 of which we saw 3 times, but I didn’t “pad” the count), 5 gray whales and about 500 long-beaked common dolphins. It was another stunning day with bright skies and calm seas all day. Again, we had that “Conception to Mugu” visibility and there were no excuses for not seeing spouts at a considerable distance. These sunny winter days are among the best of the year in my opinion.
Things really got a hot start when we were about 3 miles south of Santa Barbara and heading in the general direction of mid-Santa Cruz Island. Here we were able to follow a trio of gray whales as they slowly meandered east, and were fairly preoccupied with what looked to us like courtship behavior. There was a lot of tight formation, some rolling around, one whale atop another and other fun activities. No floyds were seen.
After a long session with this amorous triad, we continued southbound and soon found ourselves in an area with two hot spot bait balls. The usual assemblage of long-beaked common dolphins, California sea lions and sea birds was found on these spots. The dark mass of northern anchovies could be seen in the greenish-blue water.
Around noon we located our first humpback whale of the trip along with about 50 or so dolphins in one area. This was one of the humpback whales we saw in this mid-Channel zone yesterday. It was easy to identify since it has a big cluster of stalked barnacles attached to the tip of its hooked dorsal fin. The humpback whale did a couple of head lifts and ejected mouth water simultaneously.
At 1250p we found a larger bait ball hot spot and at least 150 dolphins and a few dozen California sea lions working for their lunch. The bait ball tried to hide under the Condor Express on one occasion, so everyone had wonderful looks at the mass of silvery fish with sea lions and dolphins on the attack…up close and personal. We did see an unusual cooperative behavior from a group of dolphins that had been working the bait. We looked over the side and into the bait ball and there were 5 or so dolphins down under the bait emitting a bubble stream as they swam in a circle. This may be a bubble net kind of feeding method as has been documented with humpback whales in the north Pacific. ….just a speculation by us…no proof.
Later we found the same barnacle-fin humpback whale out near Platform Habitat, and while we watched it joined with two others to make a trio of humpback whales. What fun ! On our way home from here we intersected the path of two more gray whales swimming with a small cadre of dolphins. It was certainly quite a day.  Website
2/3/16 - Epic Day for Weather and Whales
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Wow! It was such a gorgeous day full of mammals I’m speechless (almost). This was a cruise ship trip and seafaring passengers came off the big ship and got directly on to the Condor Express. To begin with, it was so crystal clear and sunny that you could see Pt. Conception to the west and Bony Mountain to the east including all 4 northern islands at once. The sea surface varied from rippled (Beaufort 1) to buttery glass (Beaufort 0). Totals for the day included 5 humpback whales, 6 gray whales, and 2,000 long-beaked common dolphins. This does not include hundreds of California sea lions, a handful of Pacific harbor seals (on bait barge), and all sorts of pelagic birds. Here is the story.
Captain Eric steered south towards multiple tall spouts in the far distance that were picked up by deckhand and Spotting Maestro, Auggie. Around 1035 we found 1 of the 5 humpbacks for the day migrating about 100 yards from 2 of the gray whales as they swam, in parallel formation, heading directly to the east with no deviations or other nonsense. After some nice looks at these very business-like whales, Eric continued south and about 5 minutes later encountered a small pod of around 200 long-beaked common dolphins. These little cetaceans were first spotted by Eric as they rode the 3-foot wake waves created by a container cargo ship that was now about 5 miles west of our location. The dolphins left the wake waves and played with the Condor for quite a while. There were lots of small calved in the pod. We continued south.
About a mile north of Santa Cruz Island, just off Platt’s Harbor, we hit the “mother lode” of sea surface biomass. In this area we watched three distinct, large northern anchovy bait balls each of which created their own hot spot with lots of dolphins, sea lions, and 3 more humpback whales. Brown pelicans were crashing and the rest of the avian biota dove and dunked from the surface. What a show!
After a while we did move over to the midriff northern face of Santa Cruz Island for a short tour, but were “interrupted” by two more pairs of gray whales traversing the island and creating some dramatic photo ops with the island in back of the whale spouts. One pair consisted of two large adult whales, and the other pair was a large whale with a much smaller, perhaps yearling, gray whale.
We left the island and were homeward bound but ran smack dab upon yet another ocean hot spot with more dolphins, sea lions, birds and our final humpback whale of the day. Adjacent to the bait ball at a 100-yard distance, there was a medium size raft of California sea lions with pectoral flippers in the air and not too anxious to move from their reveries even as the Condor Express passed by slowly and their human fans were calling to them.  Website
1/29/16 - A humpback, two gray whales and dolphins too
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The day started out sunny with moderate winds, but both clouds and winds filled-in towards the end of the trip. Not far offshore our first sighting was an adult humpback whale that was heading almost due east. It took one breath, then spent a lot of time swimming just beneath the surface where it could easily be seen by the whale fans on board the Condor Express. Long-beaked common dolphins were “common” all day long, in groups ranging from just a few to several dozen at a time.
As the conditions got a little more windy, Captain Dave and his crew put the seas astern and headed east to do some exploring. It was not long until he was riding along with 2 nice adult gray whales as they, like the humpback, headed east. Good looks were had by all. As we watched the gray whales we also stopped for a few minutes to observe a very large ocean sunfish (Mola mola).  Website
1/27/16 - Gray Whales, a Humpback and dolphins
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Captain Dave and the crew of the Condor Express found perfectly glassy sea conditions with a high overcast sky as they crossed the Santa Barbara Channel today. There were long-beaked common dolphins everywhere we went including in the Channel, at Santa Cruz Island and even close to the Harbor. The estimated total for common dolphins was approximately 600 for the day.
Our first destination was the world-famous Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island followed by a tour of the western end and dramatic sea cliffs. From here Dave took the Condor into the Santa Cruz Channel and located two pods of gray whales. The first of the gray whales was a pair found heading south and located well inside the SC Channel. Although they were rather businesslike, they did fluke-up frequently which was fun to see. The second pod was larger, with 6 very active adult gray whales and found near the north entrance to the SC Channel. By “active” I mean they were rolling around and generally cavorting, perhaps with some subsurface mating going on. No floyds were observed.
On the way back to Santa Barbara Harbor there was a giant hot spot full of northern anchovies being attacked on all sides by California sea lions, common dolphins and various sea bird species. One adult humpback whale was also found feeding on the little silver fishes. These hot spots are always spectacular to see.  Website
1/24/16 - Gray Whales in the Wind
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The rainstorm that left us high and dry yesterday brought the usual windy after effects today. The Santa Barbara Channel had been under a Small Craft Warning during the night, but the forecast was for winds and seas to subside in the morning and that it did…enough to get a great trip off the docks and in the books.
Captain Eric headed out and quickly located a pod of about 50 long-beaked common dolphins playing in the waves around the 50-fathom curve. Per usual the whale fans loved it when the little cetaceans rode the bow and stern and jumped around in the swells.
From here the Condor Express ran south towards Chinese Harbor on Santa Cruz Island and located 2 adult gray whales migrating along the face of the island. These were very regular in their up and down times, and actually surfaced near the boat twice for extra friendly and special sightings. Eric continued with these gray whales as they moved east. Tail flukes were abundant.
The trip home was a little bit bumpy, but everyone was happy to have had such good encounters.  Website
1/22/16 - Bring a Friend -- Save 25% OFF Whale Watching
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Offer ends January 31, 2016 ... Use Coupon Code #11916 ... Call our booking agent at (888)779-4253 or (805)882-0088. ... Good for 25% off adult and child fares for our Winter-Island Cruise. Cannot be combined with any other offers and must be redeemed at time of booking.  Website
1/22/16 - Six Gray Whales and More
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Captain Eric steered a course for the west end of Santa Cruz Island, a southwesterly heading from Santa Barbara. Not far off shore, our deck hand, ojo de águila Auggie, found a widespread area with little batches of long-beaked common dolphins, and they took turns coming over to the Condor Express. There were a few little calves in the mix and the water has regained a little bit of clarity which is fun because you can see what the little cetaceans are doing down there.
While dolphin-watching, ojo de águila located a spout not too far east of our position. After a 5 min slow approach, it turned out to be not one but two full-grown humpback whales. They had good surface times for good looks, but rather long 10-12 minute down times. We continued towards the west end.
Throughout the Channel there had been a mixture of both low and high clouds with no wind. By the time we made our approach to Santa Cruz Island, the low clouds had burned off and the high clouds were letting some warm but filtered sunlight through. We continued into the Santa Cruz Channel between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands, where we escaped the swell. The swell was increasing all day with 8 – 10 foot long-period rollers coming down the Channel from the west. This had little or no effect on our comfort because of the complete lack of wind.
Not long after reaching the mouth of the Santa Cruz Channel, Eric had spotted spouts to the southwest and Auggie had more spouts to the south. We got set up on a traveling group of 3 gray whales which had short down times and long surface times. I always love to see these southbound migrating gray whales in the Santa Cruz Channel because the islands make spectacular backdrops for my photographs. Both islands are just now beginning to show a slight green patina from what little rainfall we’ve had up to now. There was another gray whale a couple of hundred yards ahead of us with Gull Island in the background.
After a very nice session with these gray whales we started back on track towards Santa Barbara, passing along the northern, volcanic, face of Santa Cruz Island long enough for Eric and I to give a brief introduction to this spectacular place. Our dialogue was interrupted twice as we found two additional, single, gray whales.
We also saw a small shark finning on the surface mid-Channel but could not get set up on it before it sounded.  Website
1/18/16 - Gray Whales and Big El Niño Swell
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A long-period ground swell generated some medium-sized waves and backwash along the edge of the Breakwater as we departed Santa Barbara Harbor. Once a few hundred yards offshore we no longer felt the swell, but later in the trip it was spectacular to see the huge waves crashing up against the sea cliffs on the west end of Santa Cruz Island. Other than the swell, the ocean surface varied between being flat glassy smooth and no wind to a few spots with a light breeze. Skies were pretty much overcast and the predominate color of the day was silver.
After watching the local surfers at the Breakwater and the local sea lions on the harbor entrance buoy, it was only a few minutes until ojo de águila Auggie the deckhand spotted a wide area with scattered long-beaked common dolphins. There were about 100 commons in small groups here and there plus a special guest appearance of exactly two Pacific white-sided dolphins near the beach. From the presence of shearwaters, gulls, pelicans and cormorants, I guessed there were scattered small schools of anchovies in the zone.
Across the Santa Barbara Channel and near the northern mouth of the Santa Cruz Channel el águila Auggie and Captain Eric located numerous gray whales heading east (which is one way to get moving south to Mexico along our south-facing coastline). The Condor Express turned to follow along at a safe distance. This first encounter consisted of about 9 gray whales that came together to form a group of six and another group of 3, then quickly dispersed into singles and pairs. Great looks were had by all. Several California sea lion pups also approached the Condor as we moved along parallel to Santa Cruz Island on our way to the famous Painted Cave.
The huge ground swell had the entire Cave entrance and cavity awash with white water as the waves ricocheted from one wall to the other and back into the cavern itself. Sorry folks, no penetrating the Cave today with the boat ! As we departed the Cave and headed north back to the Harbor, we found 2 more gray whales making our total for the day eleven.  Website
1/15/16 - OMG! A Megapod of Gray Whales!
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There was a pretty fresh breeze blowing from the western Santa Barbara Channel and we made our crossing in choppy, Beaufort 4 and 5, sea conditions. There wasn’t much a swell, just a bit of whitecaps. Skies started out party cloudy and the sunny spots were warm and nice. We stopped for a while to watch about 50 long-beaked common dolphins jump over the whitecaps. Later, as we crossed the Lanes, a medium-thin, patchy sea level fog layer engulfed us. So it came to pass that we were south of the Lanes and a relatively nice, sunny zone opened up to us, and behold, yay verily, Captain Dave spotted a megapod of southbound gray whales.
It was not until we were closer to the megapod that we all appreciated what, indeed, we were looking at. The gray whales moved parallel to Santa Cruz Island for a while, then struck an almost direct, northerly course towards mid-Channel. We stayed with this group for an hour, and we could only guess that sometime later in the afternoon they would make a course change and get back on track for Mexico.
The actual number of individuals in this megapod is hard to determine exactly. First there were the fog patches, add to that the strong winds, mix in some nice salt spray and angular winter lighting, and counting became a challenge. I watched one of their regular, every-5-minute surfacings through my telephoto lens and counted out loud as tail flukes were kicked up. I tallied 16 tail flukes then added more to the count for those that did not fluke up when sounding. I thought 20 gray whales in the pod was pretty accurate. Another crew member said he counted 26. Captain Dave was the conservative with a solid 18.
The sight of all those spouts and tail flukes amidst fairly rough seas with winds blowing the spout spray asunder….well, it just doesn’t get any better than this !
I’ll try and get these images processed over the weekend and posted to the regular photo site: Meanwhile, I strongly urge you all to come out NOW while we are still near the apex of the southbound migration curve.  Website
1/3/16 - Sunny skies and humpback whales
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Sunny skies and humpback whales prevailed in our zone of the Santa Barbara Channel today. It was a spectacular start to the new year. The sightings started right away in shallow water just east of Santa Barbara Harbor, with the first of 6 humpback whales and a handful of long-beaked common dolphins. It was a good encounter but the whale was spending very little time breathing, and a lot of time diving.
Moving out past the 40-fm curve Captain Dave and his crew found the remaining 5 of the 6 total humpback whales, and they were feeding near a surface anchovy bait ball and hot spot. This area was full of dolphins, seabirds, sea lions and humpbacks too. You could see the bait ball as you looked over the side of the Condor Express. At least 450 dolphins rounded out the cetacean count for the day.
A very strong and unusual southeast wind kicked up and started to make the conditions a bit bumpy. As we were near the offshore oil platforms en route back to the harbor, Dave slowed down and gave one of his famous explanations of the oil rigs, their crew, their payload and history. The SE wind was on our stern for the last leg of the trip back home, and thus the ride was comfy and smooth.  Website
12/30/15 - Gray Whales and Humpbacks
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An eye-popping day with clean, fresh air and great cetacean sightings. All four islands were in plain view and the sea conditions were great. The first 2 of our 6 gray whale sightings was directly out of the harbor on the 50-fm curve. Two large gray whales were “on a mission,” tracking directly east (which is one of two ways to go south in the Santa Barbara Channel). We watched for a while then moved further south.
Our second sighting was about 40 min later than the first and consisted of two adult humpback whales moving around a small open ocean hot spot. There were approximately 200 long-beaked common dolphins, lots of California sea lions, and a bunch of active seabirds all working this zone. We watched for a while the moved south.
Along the northern face of Santa Cruz Island we found the next 2 of our 6 gray whales, and as the earlier whales, they were heading east with only slight course changes — one of which was to swim alongside the Condor Express for a look-see. We watched for a while then moved to the nearby world-famous Painted Cave. Dave did his usual complete interpretation of the geology, anthropology and biology of this, our largest of the eight, islands. The Cave penetration was a good one despite a small ground swell and surge inside the cavern itself. Our next stop was the west end of the island and the entrance to Santa Cruz Channel.
Near the northern entrance to Santa Cruz Channel we located a dozen rafting California sea lions and also sighted the final pair of gray whales to make our total six for the day.
Hope to see you out sometime this week while the weather is so good. It’s supposed to “rain” next week, or so the myth-makers at NOAA say.  Website
12/6/15 - A Killer Day
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It was a nice wintry day in our swath of the Santa Barbara Channel. A warm but filtered sun shone through the high cloud layer. There was only a slight breeze. The water was clear and the topside visibility was good but a slight tad hazy. After an inspection of the most recent humpback whale zones, and finding none, we headed for the Santa Cruz Channel where early gray whales often pass on their way south.
Before we could reach the Channel between Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island and look for grays, we received good intel from one of our friends in the fleet that there were special whales just outside Chinese Harbor, Santa Cruz Island. Sure enough, when we arrived at the coordinates, a great day on the water soon became a killer day.
We closely watched a pod of seven Biggs killer whales which included 2 large males, 4 females of various sizes and 1 frisky juvenile. Also in the mix were 2 young California sea lions that seemed to be interested in the Orca pod and was following them around. Only the juvenile killer showed any interest in the sea lion, and none of what we could see from our vantage point above the water line appeared to be aggressive. As Captain Dave said, perhaps these sea lions did not “get the memo” about Orcas.
The killer whales came together and spread apart from time to time. Their path was a slow drift to the west northwest. The females and the juvenile rolled around, did some kelping, approached and swam under the boat a few times, and gave the impression they were playing. The two males swam together isolated from the rest of the pod most of the time, but not always.
After almost a hour of great looks at these killer whales, it was time for us to say goodbye and head towards Santa Barbara Harbor. The crossing was uneventful, but when we were about two-thirds of the way home we found a cow-calf humpback whale pair because the little calf threw its tail a couple of dozen times. I’ll send another message out after our friend Alisa Schulman-Janiger identifies this pod for us tomorrow morning. Thanks, in advance, Alisa.  Website
11/30/15 - 3 humpbacks, 100 dolphins
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Captain Eric and the crew found the first of their humpbacks along the 50-fathom curve six miles south of Santa Barbara. At first these two whale had long down times, but eventually “warmed up” and paid a couple of friendly visits to the Condor Express. Sea conditions were good, with a mild breeze and small swell. After some quality time with the first 2 humpbacks, Eric turned east to put the wind and swells astern.
Approximately 100 long-beaked common dolphins were located next and we had great looks all around the boat. Finally 2 more tall spouts were seen further to the east, and one of them was very cooperative and turned out to be a wonderful humpback sighting.
At the end of the day, we watched 3 humpbacks closely, saw another 3 in the distance, and ran along with 100 common dolphins.  Website
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

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