Oxnard California - 2020 - 37

Ask the
Experts

"You don't need to be scuba certified. All you need is a mask and a
snorkel. In the first five-to-ten feet, there are tons of fish right there.
Put your head down and see it with your own eyes."
- KELLY MOORE, MARINE ECOLOGIST AND PARK DIVE OFFICER

6: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; 7: DOUG MANGUM; FAR RIGHT: BLAKE BRONSTAD

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
Open year-round
1�⁄�-hour channel crossing
The largest island in California, Santa Cruz Island is
comprised of more than 96 square miles of pristine
land including two mountain ranges; a central valley
and fault line; deep watery canyons; and 77 miles of
rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, and so much more.
* On the northwest side of the island resides one of
the largest sea caves in the world: Painted Cave is a
quarter-mile long and 100-feet wide. Kayakers can
explore the deep recesses of the colorful cavern named
for the various lichen and algae decorating its interior.
* With few predators native to the island, a huge
bounty of plant species, land animals, seabirds and
ocean-dwelling creatures have thrived here. Visitors
are encouraged to discover this wild beauty, just as the
Native Americans did 10,000 years ago.
* Snorkel right off Scorpion Anchorage, or picnic
along the shore at Prisoners Harbor. Those looking
to stay on terra firma can take a leisurely stroll along
the well-marked trails in Scorpion Valley or go for a
heart-pumping hike in the Montañon region.
* If you need more time to discover all that Santa
Cruz offers, pitch a tent at one of the island's campgrounds, including those at family-friendly Scorpion
Ranch or within the Del Norte Backcountry.

SANTA ROSA ISLAND
Open March through November
2-hour channel crossing
Just west of Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island takes
on a different ecological form than its larger sibling.
* The island is famous for a rare subspecies of
Torrey pine, as well as some of the Channel Islands'
native plants and ani6
mals, including the island
fox - the national park's
largest native land-based
mammal.
* Additionally, the
current ecosystem is
rich with canyon grasses,
nesting bald eagles and
lagoons.
* Santa Rosa was once a
reflection of a prehistoric
world. In 1994, paleontologists unearthed the remains
of a pygmy mammoth, a Pleistocene-era endemic
species that roamed the island and grew to a height of
about six feet. The preserved skeleton of the miniature

PARK RANGERS
GIVE THE INSIDE
SCOOP.

"One thing I do at the end
of a hike is invite visitors
to find a quiet spot and
listen to the island. If
people care about the
islands, they'll continue to
be protected." - BETHANY

7

mammoth is the most complete species' fossil ever
found. Learn about the history of the island during
ranger-led hikes or on a self-guided interpretive walk.

SZCZEPANSKI, PARK GUIDE

SANTA BARBARA ISLAND
Open April through October
2-hour channel crossing
At just one-square mile, Santa Barbara is the smallest
of the five Channel Islands in the park. Nevertheless,
the little isle teems with life.
* An underwater volcanic eruption helped form the
island's twin-peaked mesa that juts upward from the
triangular-shaped landmass.
* A surprising variety of native songbirds, such as
the horned lark, orange-crowned warbler and house
finch, live in the brush and grasses peppering the
landscape. The melodies of songbirds mingle with the
bellows and barks of northern elephant seals and sea
lions on the shore, creating a unique symphony.
* Due to its isolation, Santa Barbara is a fantastic
place to go swimming, snorkeling and kayaking, with
water access only available at Landing Cove.

SAN MIGUEL ISLAND
Open July through October
3�⁄�-hour channel crossing
The westernmost and most isolated island, San Miguel
is a staging area for an almost daily battle of the elements. High winds and dense fog hit the shores of the
island, resulting in a harsh but beautiful landscape.
* Hikers who make the all-day guided trek across the
island will find gorgeous vistas and sights of wildlife.
* Thousands of pinnipeds reside at Point Bennett, using the secluded beach as a breeding ground. Offshore,
marine mammals such as dolphins, gray whales, orcas
and even blue whales frequent the waters.
* Access to San Miguel is by permit only, but it's
worth it - the island is spectacular. O

"Keep wildlife wild. The island foxes won't run away
so quickly. We encourage
visitors not to approach
or feed the foxes hanging
around, though you can
take pictures and observe
them." - LAURA SHASKEY,
WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST

"The waters are a boaters'
paradise, but we recommend using chart plotters
or the Whale Alert
app. Unless you have
a GPS, there's nobody
out there, and there are
no landmarks to guide
you." - MERRILL MCCAULEY,
PROTECTION RANGER

VISITOXNARD.COM | 2020

37


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Oxnard California - 2020

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