Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Channel Islands National Park

California's Channel Islands National Park includes five islands as well as their surrounding ocean environment, protecting a wealth of cultural and natural resources. Eight islands make up the Channel Islands, and in 1980, five of those islands were granted national park protection: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara Islands. The islands are home to an astonishing 2000+ plant and animal species, 145 of which are found nowhere else in the world. The isolation of the islands has allowed evolution to proceed independently and marine life varies from microscopic plankton to the largest animal on earth, the blue whale (10% of the world's blue whale population gathers here in the summer.) 13,000 years of human habitation can be traced on the islands. It is also the home of the oldest dated human remains in North America -- Arlington Springs Man from 13,000 years ago.

The secluded location can be accessed only by boat and small plane, making the park one of the least frequented in the country. In addition, entry visitation is limited thereby enhancing the feeling of solitude and protecting the fragile resources. The national park is home to more endangered species found only here than any other park in the country.

Transportation to the island is available from park concessionaire boats listed here.

Here's the dock and the entrance stairway to the island.

I found this sign very interesting since it shows that most of the national park is not just barren cliffs but abounding with underwater life forms (click to enlarge.)

The Anacapa lighthouse was turned on in 1932 and was the last permanent lighthouse built on the west coast.

Because of their isolation and remoteness, the islands support fewer native animal species than similar habitats on the mainland. Only species that could fly or swim or raft over on floating debris made it to here. Some of the species evolved into distinct subspecies, different even from the sister islands' species, such as the deer mouse and the island fox.

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