The second day of the Channel Islands was to Anacapa Island. Anacapa is much smaller, with only about two miles of trails which more or less covers the entire island end to end. I guess technically we were on East Anacapa island – it’s all labeled as one island, but there’s an east, middle and west. Maybe they are all connected at low tide – I’m not sure.
Our boat ride over started a bit later and was a smaller boat. We were on the upper deck, but not standing on the bow of the boat, so it was a bit warmer. We did see some dolphins, but not nearly as many as the morning before. The surprise sighting of the day was a mola mola, the biggest, and arguably dumbest, bony fish in the world. This one wasn’t that huge, but happened to be near the surface. Also, much further in the distance, we got to seem some whale spouts – we weren’t close enough to see the whales, but I think, mostly just playing the odds based on the log board in the harbor office, they were likely Minke whales.
As with Santa Cruz, there’s a mandatory orientation when you arrive on the island (I think this is just a National Park Islands kind of thing, they do it on the Manitous as well) where we got a quick rundown of the island and one very critical piece of information on how to ward off any gulls that might get aggressive from the air. The trick is apparently to stick your fist up in the air if you see one, but not to walk around with your fist in the air because that just instigates more attacking. This information seemed to be accurate and was used frequently on the walk around the island.
We had planned two days to visit a couple of the islands of Channel Islands National Park. Day one was the island of Santa Cruz. Island Packers is the only ferry operation to the island, and though I think their prices were high, we didn’t have much option if we wanted to go. We had an 8:00 departure to arrive on the island at 9:00 or slightly later if there was wildlife sighted – which it was.
Other than pelicans around the harbor, we didn’t see much early on. It wasn’t until we were about 2/3 of the way to the island that a large pod of common dolphins was sited. The captain stopped the boat a bit to let everyone onboard watch. Janet and I were standing up front in the bow, which was a bit chilly, but was fun and was a good vantage point for the wildlife viewing. I tried to take a few pictures, but in the end just decided to watch. Most of them were too close and there wasn’t really enough light.
Once we arrived on the island and received our orientation speech, we started with the longest section we planned to do, the hike out to Smuggler’s Cove. This took us up and over the center of the island (red dots) to a somewhat isolated cove with a few remnants of settlement. As an important part of the hike, we saw a number of island foxes which are one of the smallest fox species. They were endangered due to golden eagle predation in 2004. The recovery program put in place worked (breeding foxes, relocating the golden eagles, bringing back bald eagles and removing domesticated sheep and cows) and now the foxes seemed plentiful and relatively unconcerned with our presence. Continue reading