A day at sea near the Channel Islands
Just off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, the Channel Islands hug the rocky shoreline. Because of the mixing of a southward-bound cold water current, rich with anchovies, and another warm-water current surging up from Baja, Mexico, these waters teem with marine life found delectable by dolphins, Humpback whales, Orcas, and other sea creatures.
On a recent whale-watching excursion, I found myself equally entranced by the antics of the Common Dolphins as by the intermittent breaching of the Humpback Whales.
These dolphins delighted in cruising alongside the boat, playing in the wake and gliding underwater right beside us.
They jump from the depths so quickly that their aerial acrobatics proved difficult to photograph. But, the benefit of photography is that oftentimes I find that I can make out details of the moment which my bare eyes could not discern.
Our guide told us that this pod contained many babies, who stick pretty closely to their mothers’ sides. But, they were hard for me to see with the naked eye. So, I was delighted to find that the camera had been able to capture this photo (below) of a mama and her two babies.
Female Common Dolphins reach sexual maturity at about twelve to fifteen years of age. They tend to have just one infant at a time, but can have twins or even triplets. The gestation period lasts from ten to eleven months. At birth, the babies weigh about twenty-two pounds. Adults typically weigh in between two-hundred twenty and three hundred pounds.
I wonder if these two babies (who both seemed to be staying close to each other and to one female) are twins?
They live together in groups of one thousand to many thousands of individuals and are highly sociable. They travel, eat and even surface to breathe together. If an individual is sick, they will keep it afloat so that it can breathe.
They absolutely love to breach through the wake of the boat, surfing the waves.
This one (below) is doing a back-flip. Can you spot the two others gliding beneath the surface?
And this curious dolphin seemed to be looking up at me as I was leaning over the edge of the boat to take its photograph.
All photos were shot with a Nikon D500 and a Nikkor 70–200 1:2:8E lens.
Erika Burkhalter is a yogi, cat-mom, photographer, and lover of travel and nature, spreading her love and amazement for Mother Earth’s glories, one photo, poem or story at a time. (MS Neuropsychology, MA Yoga Studies).
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the realm of the Common Dolphin.
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Story and photos ©Erika Burkhalter. All rights reserved.