April - November
WSummer Whale Watching
During the Spring-Fall season, the Santa Barbara Channel is teeming with life due to the process of upwelling. High winds push out warm surface water, bringing up cold, nutrient-rich water from the ocean depths which creates a bloom of life. The phytoplankton explosion is so significant that it can be seen from space, providing a food source for anchovies and krill, which in turn feed the magnificent creatures we are searching for. Our summer whale-watching season offers an incredible opportunity to see a variety of whales and dolphins, including Humpback whales, Blue whales, Minke whales, Common dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, and Risso's dolphins. It's an extraordinary experience to witness these creatures in their natural habitat, and we prioritize safety and respect for both the animals and our guests during our tours.
Come aboard to experience the Santa Barbara feeding season!
Humpback whales are our most frequently sighted whales from the months of April-November. These gentle giants feed in the channel's nutrient-rich waters for the majority of the year. Known for their innate curiosity and incredible aerial acrobatics, humpback whales are just about everyone's favorite whale! We're lucky to spend so much time with them, we've even become acquainted with a number of individuals!
Come enjoy their unique personalities with us.
Blue whales are the largest creature to ever roam (or swim) the face of the earth. Maxing out at nearly 90 feet long and 150 tons in the Northern Hemisphere, we're lucky to have one of the healthiest blue whale populations in the world off of California's coast. These giant behemoths are almost exclusive krill eaters, so when krill numbers explode here in Santa Barbara, the blue whales will be here to take advantage.
Blue whale migrations vary from year to year but we typically see them in the later summer months, from July - September. There's nothing quite like seeing the shine of a blue whale that almost triples the size of our boat!
We're lucky enough to see an array of different dolphin species throughout the year. Both kinds of common dolphins, the short-beaked and the long-beaked are prevalent in the channel. Sometimes we see them in pods 10,000 strong! While they sometimes leave the channel in totality for inexplicable reasons, we often see them on every trip. We also see both kinds of bottlenose dolphins, inshore and offshore. Inshore bottlenose congregates in small pods, usually numbering half a dozen to a dozen individuals, while their offshore cousins can number in the hundreds. The inshore forms are also a little lighter and smaller than the more robust offshore cousins. The third dolphin species we see on our tours are Risso's dolphin. These exclusive squid eaters are beautifully scarred from the food they eat as well as each other. They have a very complex social structure and often rake each other with the 6-8 teeth they have on their lower jaw.