West 2018 Day 7 – Santa Cruz Island

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Saturday 05/19/18

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.

Island Fox

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