Sunday, July 10, 2011

Whales!! It was a Whale of a Trip too!

We had reservations on the Condor Express for the 4 hour whale watching tour for Wednesday but they called us and said the seas were too rough.  I learned an important lesson that day.  Don't take Dramamine until you HAVE too.  I spent the afternoon napping!!

So the next day, on Thursday, we were able to go out and I took 1/2 of Wednesday's dose closer to departure time.  The seas were still a tad rough and I was glad we hadn't been on rougher seas the day before.  A LOT of heaving was going on over the backside of the boat.  At first I was top side on the upper deck but I went down to the back of the boat on the first deck and was alright there (less motion in that portion of the boat).  The above photo was the top deck just before I went down.  The person on the right was there to identify the humpback whales for some scientific whale study.  Humpbacks can be identified by the markings on their tails.  Every whale is different.

Here is a Humpback blowing (breathing).  That is how you can spot the whales - by the blow.  The crew was very good at spotting them and then the captain would announce where to look.   That is Catalina Islands National Park in the background.  The whales migrate between Catalina and the Santa Barbara shoreline.
Two flukes of humpback whales showing here as they prepare to dive.  Humpbacks will almost always fluke (put their tail fins in the air) as they dive.  They will spend about 14-15 minutes on the surface and then dive for food for about the same amount of time.  We saw probably around 14 humpback whales.  Digital photography was a big Liability.  With the seconds delay in snapping the photo most digital cameras, you rarely actually caught the whale on the surface.
We were treated to a rare sight.  I did not get a picture of the Blue Whale we encountered, these photos were taken by 'C'.  The Blue streak over the surface is why the Blue whale is called that.  It is so big, the water over it's back turns a beautiful teal blue as it swims.
'C' even managed to get a picture of the Blue Whale on the surface as it was blowing.  The Blue Whale is endangered with only 10,000 alive today.  There are 100,000 Humpbacks.  The blue whale is also the largest mammal to have ever lived, even bigger than a dinosaur.  Unfortunately, none of the whale photos really do the animals justice and there is nothing to judge the size of the animal in the picture.  They were impressive, believe me!  I would recommend Condor Cruises for a whale-watching tour.  I thought they did a great job.
After we got back about 2:30 pm, we walked around Santa Barbara Harbor.  There were a lot of sailboats docked.

As we walked out on the dock, I saw this guy just below where we were walking on the shoreline.

Look at this beautiful tree near the Marina!

C & L went shopping so I sat on the dock and watched the boats and the seals play.  I saw this yellow boat coming in.

It said "Lil Toot" on the side and it docked right in front of me.  Apparently you could take "Lil Toot" for a tour of the Harbor.  I thought it was pretty darn cute.

It was a fun day and I enjoyed all of it.  Certainly different than where I live 60 Miles North of Nowhere!


  1. Wow, what gorgeous pictures. I would love to see a whale. Last Sept. we were on a southern Caribbean cruise and Terry spotted one but by the time I looked it was gone. Plus you had your camera ready. COngratulations on that too.

  2. We can sometimes see the whales frolicing and blowing steam from the shoreline where I live (near Dana Point, Ca). If you have a good boat captain they can find them in the channel (between the mainland and the islands where you were) but they can also be a rare sight. Our son went on a whale watching trip and came back calling it a "water watch." You were lucky to see them. And you are always lucky to visit Santa Barbara! Even Prince William and his wife made a trip to their polo field while they were in the US.

  3. I have enjoyed you descriptions and photos of your California trip..that purple tree must have been Wisteria or something was stunning:)