Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Day at Sea!

It was a brilliant sunny morning. The wind had been blowing for two days, knocking out the marine layer of clinging fog. Isaac and I decided it was time for our whale-watching adventure. So we arrived at the Santa Barbara dock to take the "Condor Express" (a twin-hulled jet-powered cruise boat) for a four-and-a-half hour ride to see the whales. We were warned at the beginning of their recent spate of bad luck. But no sooner were we clear of the city, than we started to see pods of dolphins playing with the boat. They jumped in the air, spun around under ater, coursed over each other like children released from school. The naturalist on board, who counts and describes sightings, said that every dolphin on the surface is mirrored by eight under water (8:1 ratio!).

About eight miles west of Santa Barbara we began seeing spouts of water in the air, indicating whales. All told, we saw at least nine hump-backed whales, some alone, some in pairs, and some as mother with calf. When they break the surface and you are close, you hear the snort and expulsion of air and water as almost a deep gasp. Then, when their fluke breaks the surface like above, they are heading straight down into deep water for fish, gone for quite some time. About 1,500 hump-backs cruise up and down the Pacific and out to Hawaii. Magnificent creatures.

Then we crossed choppy waters with waves about 6-8 feet to the island of Santa Cruz, one of the five channel islands. This 24 mile long island is now in the hands of the Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service. Isaac said it was like Jurrasic Park in that it looked so barren it seemed pre-historic. The wild rugged beauty and the natural sea caves made it a day we will both remember for a long time.


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