The eight Channel Islands span 160 miles off the coast of Southern California. There are four northern islands-San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Anacapa, and four southern islands-San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina, and San Clamente. Channel Islands National Park consists of the four northern islands plus Santa Barbara Island.
The islands rose from the ocean millions of years ago and were born of plate tectonics, volcano activity and fluctuating sea levels. During the ice ages the northern four islands were once connected as the polar ice caps expanded. Also during this time, the islands were most accessible to the mainland’s flora and fauna. When the seas rose again it created the islands and isolated them to evolve separately from the mainland as well as one another. The Channel Islands are home to over 2,000 terrestrial plants and animals, of which 145 are found nowhere else in the world. A few good examples include the Island Fox, which appears half the size of a mainland fox and the Silver Lotus Plant, found only on Santa Cruz Island’s highest peaks. 2010 marks the parks 30th anniversary, but its isolation and the fact you cannot drive to the park means it is one of the least visited parks in the national park system. This isolation continues to assist in the protection of its fragile resources. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to go and see them for yourself.
© Greg Clure Photography