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Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park, California

CHANNEL ISLANDS, CALIF.--Off the coast of Oxnard, Ventura and Santa Barbara on the Central California coast are the Channel Island. The set of island include nearly half a dozen islands, most located in the National Marine Sanctuary and operated by National Parks Services.


One of the crown jewels is Anacapa Island approx. 12 miles west of the California mainland in the Channel Islands National Park. Comprised of five islands, Anacapa is known as the Galapagos Island of the U.S.

90% of Southern California seagulls are hatched and born on Anacapa Island, taking their first flights from its mountain tops. Their nesting habits and island habitat are of great interest to scientists. A black rat was introduced to the island, impacting the endemic species, including the largest breeding colony of the endangered California brown pelican.

Island Packers offers daily excursions from Oxnard's Channel Islands Harbor to Anacapa Island (a series of three islets). The fantastic hour-long boat ride culminates in a climb up 150 stairs to the top of a millions-of-year-old rock. In the spring the island plateau is a colorful landscape of bright yellow, daisy-like coreopsis flowers. Combined with red, flowering ice plant, it's an artist's palette of color and contrast.

Not surprising, Anacapa Island is one of the most popular subjects in local artists' paintings. Amidst this maze of ground cover are hundreds of stark, white western seagulls. The nesting creatures are everywhere. They live in the tall bushes and grasses, and lay their eggs in little nests they build near or on the ground. It's a rare scene you will not find in any place where birds must find protection from predators.

The Western Seagulls experience daily boats of tourists coming onto their island, snapping photos up close and upsetting their comfort. However, the island provides the best chance for rare and common birds to hatch their eggs successfully.

While many will never travel by boat to Channel Islands National Park and beautiful Anacapa Island, you can wander California's piers and walk on the beach, seeing beautiful seagulls in action. When you look at the cautious creatures who like to keep their distance from humans, you can smile at the thought that a trip taking humans an hour by boat to arrive at Anacapa Island takes these birds much shorter times, and it's fairly likely that they originated from the island. nps.gov


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