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Posted on January 4, 2013 | 8:31 p.m.

Gray Whale Watching Season in Full Swing in Santa Barbara Channel

Source: Richard Slade for the Condor Express

Gray whale watching season is in full swing, with daily sightings in the Santa Barbara Channel aboard the Condor Express.

The Condor is now offering half-day whale watching excursions to view these magnificent mammals. The 4½-hour narrated trips depart Sea Landing in the Santa Barbara Harbor at 10 a.m. and return at 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

About Pacific Gray Whales

Every year, more than 20,000 Pacific gray whales migrate through the Santa Barbara Channel on their way to and from the warm lagoons of lower Baja California, Mexico.

Gray whale spouts can reach up to 15 feet. The whales eat very little food during the migration. Males can reach up to 45 feet in length and females up to 50 feet, weighing 30 to 35 tons. Tails can span up to 10 feet wide. Grays travel up to 10,000 miles annually. Newborn whales are 15 feet long at birth and weigh about 2,000 pounds.

“We are seeing a growing number of southbound grays each day since the migrations started a few weeks ago,” Captain Mat Curto said. “It’s this time of year that the gray whales pass close to our coastline. The good weather also makes locating the migration a lot easier. Entertainment is also provided by Risso’s dolphins, long-beaked common dolphins, short-beaked common dolphins, California sea lions and an occasional killer whale.”

Rates for the half-day trips aboard the Condor Express are $89 for adults and $50 for children age 12 or younger. Advance reservations are advised and can be made at Sea Landing or by calling 805.882.0088.

— Richard Slade represents the Condor Express.

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