We spent the day plying the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel in search of sea life. It was our first day out in the past couple days as the wind has been blowing a gale from the west.
You could feel the excitement in the air as we left the dock heading offshore to observe wildlife in one of the most pristine offshore environments globally.
Sightings of late in the region have included southern migrating Gray Whales, Humpbacks, Blue as well as Orcas. Every trip is an experience, never to be duplicated. As we ventured offshore, today however, the channel was desolate. When this happens, we often assume there are predators in the region…however none were observed. We did however observe the food chain in motion. Massive schools of sardine were observed with pods of dolphin herding them to the surface. As this forage species was being driven to the surface, massive pelicans assaulted from above. In the mix, were marauding colonies of sea lions getting their piece of the action. It was a feeding event on a grand scale that we seldom are privileged to witness first hand. As we came upon one school of sardine, they sought refuge under our hull trying to escape the inevitable…to no avail.
Life in the wild…the Channel Islands. That’s what sets these trips apart from all others up and down the coast. Nowhere else can one expect to observe such a diverse collection of wildlife all on a single outing.
In the past I have compared Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary to Yellowstone National Park. They have such parallels in terms of wildlife and unique characteristics. We are the closest point of entry into the park and sanctuary and have the unique opportunity to witness several migratory species annually. Just a short 10 miles offshore…unspoiled…natural…wilderness…yet less than 60 miles away from millions in Southern California. These Islands, and the sea that guards them, remain untouched and as they were throughout the millennia. Marine life abounds. While today, we did not redeem our ticket to the big show, we experienced a sight few are privileged to observe.
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See you onboard!