Whale watching photos taken near Santa Barbara part 3

Two common dolphins surfacing

These are actually dolphin watching photos! We saw three types of dolphins during the all-day ACS whale watching trip: bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Risso’s dolphins.

We saw a huge pod of common dolphins that were having a blast. Many came over to the boat to do some bowriding, which is always fun to watch, but what was really cool to see…tons of leaping and breaching dolphins. Several dolphins really caught some serious air with their entire bodies leaving the water before landing with a big splash. A few dolphins looked like they were “standing’ on the water’s surface before falling on their sides or back. They acted like professional entertainers and I loved every minute!

Common dolphins porpoising

I didn’t get very good shots of the bottlenose dolphins because the marine layer was so thick leaving the harbor that they blend in with the water. However, the Risso’s dolphins we found further out where it was clearer. They were hanging out in a group of about six or seven of varying ages.

Risso’s dolphins begin life a dark gray, but as they get older they acquire scrapes and marks, presumably from interacting with each other, which appear white. Risso’s collect more and more scars throughout their life causing the oldest dolphins to appear white.

As you can see (hopefully) in the photos, the white markings look really cool, artistic patterns unique to each dolphin.

Risso's dolphin

Risso's dolphin


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