Flying humpback whales in the Santa Barbara Channel*

Photo credit: Michael Daniel Ho

Wildlife photographer Michael Daniel Ho reported back from his whale watching trip in the Santa Barbara Channel this weekend, which was hosted by the American Cetacean Society on the Condor Express.

Unfortunately, he started the trip with a bout of seasickness. Thankfully, during the trip they saw a dozen blue and humpback whales, which made up for any morning discomfort. Not to mention the fact that a few humpback whales breached!

Here’s Michael’s description of the event: “The surprising thing is the humpbacks breached three times and I caught one flying out of the water!!” (See photo above of whale flying out of the water.)

He commented, “That’s an unusual event here in Southern California.” Based on my experience he’s right, humpback whales in Southern California don’t breach as often and put on the same showy behavior commonly seen in the breeding grounds off Hawaii. That said, they will still breach from time to time and you may be lucky enough to be there when it happens and if you are truly lucky, capture it on camera.

Another trip highlight was a close encounter with some curious humpback whales, “A couple of them came over and swam under the boat. Their shimmering, iridescent colors were simply out of this world when viewed from above,” said Michael.

He also said the blue whales were magnificent, no flukes, but seeing the largest animal to ever live on earth is always awesome.

The American Cetacean Society will be hosting another eight hour whale watching trip on the Condor Express August 13th, click here for more information. Or check out the Condor Express website for their trip schedule. We are so lucky in Southern California, just as gray whale watching season ends, blue whales and humpback whales begin arriving. So get out there and see some whales, you won’t regret it!

*Humpback whales can’t fly. The title of this post, “Flying humpback whales in the Santa Barbara Channel” was a creative choice employing exaggeration to get your attention. But humpback whales can leap out of the water, this is called breaching.


  1. says

    Pigs fly? No silly, Humpback whales do. Just look at the two wings coming out of its body. Anything is possible if one goes whale watching with the American Cetacean Society. Make sure you don’t miss the August 13 trip. See you there.

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