Before heading out to Oxnard, California to the North American Travel Journalist (NATJA) conference I picked up a book by Susan Casey titled, The Devil’s Teeth, A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks. While the book didn’t talk about the Channel Islands, but the Farallon Islands, they too were off the coast of California, a bit further north. As I followed her journey learning about the Great White Sharks, I thought about this as I traveled by boat to the Channel Islands that literally jut out of the sea like those Casey describes in her book.
I never saw a shark, but I did see a few whales and some sea lions and seals. This is very exciting for someone who’s closest body of water is our neighbor’s pond where I occasionally see a crane or a blue heron and a creek which may bring a bit of water fowl along with the white tail deer and the cry of the ever-present coyote. The Channel Islands are part of a National Marine Sanctuary and includes the islands of Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbra. The brochure titled Protecting Your Channel Islands states, “The sanctuary and park bridge two biogeographical provinces, and, in a remarkably small area, harbor thousands of species of plants and animals. One hundred and forty-five of these species are found nowhere else in the world. cultural resources date back 13,000 years.”
All I have to say I WOW! When I researched the Chumash Indians a bit I read that they would paddle to these remote islands and that they did some paintings in caves, how I would like to see those. The islands are positioned at the confluence of two major ocean currents this is part of what creates the amazing biodiversity. The area is large encompassing 1,470 square miles. How I would love to see learn to dive and see the ship wrecks and cultural icons on this historic site.
When we got as close as we could to the islands, it was amazing to see the sea lions, elephant seals and harbor seals basking on the rocks and the diverse . The boat ride was a joy. Although quite cool, it was probably one of the highlights of the NATJA conference. I can see how Casey became obsessed with the great whites and this starkly beautiful landscape. It is wonderful that this area is protected. After reading Casey’s book I can see how the tourists and those wanting to make a quick buck would be drawn to the islands to reap what they could. Thankfully the area is a sanctuary so that future generations can enjoy it as much as I did.
If ever in the Channel Island Harbor call on the Island Packer crew and hop aboard!