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Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
P. B. Shelley

Monday, September 13, 2010

Extraordinary...Channel Islands National Marine Life Sanctuary

I just returned from a 3 day cruise through the Channel Islands National Marine Life Sanctuary off of Santa Barbara, California. The Los Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club offered cruises all summer with one more in October. It was an excellent way for me to combine a vacation with finishing my watercolor scenes for my business, Starbell Enterprises. What a wonderful group of people, including the terrific crew!!
We made way out to sea from Santa Barbara at 4 am on Thurs. I thought I would never get seasick after a couple of Atlantic Ocean day trips. Wrong! But it quickly passed by 7 am I was ready for breakfast. When I came up the winding steps from the bunks below, a sheer yellow wall of rock rose in front of my eyes. We had anchored quite close to the Island of Santa Cruz. Here I would test my stamina and endurance with a 6 mile hike over steep, rocky terrain. As we left Santa Cruz Island we could see Anacapa in the distance. All the islands were once upon a time one island, volcanic and there is an earthquake fault running along them.  We were blessed to have 2 naturalists from the Channel Island NMLS on board and leading our hikes.
Almost everyone kayaked including one long 5 mile race with the main boat. A few of us just watched, me included. However, I learned about how to start and have made plans to practice in calmer waters before attempting the Ocean. Some hardy Sierra Club members hiked and then went kayaking! It was too cold though to snorkel. Climate Change in California this summer created a cool summer due to fog banks up and down our coast keeping the ocean water temp too low for snorkeling.

The Conception, our wonderful boat slept 30 plus a fabulous crew of 6. The captain helped build the boat. He took us into a sea cave that was breathtaking!

 This is an earthquake fault on San Miguel Island that we hiked up in order to get off the beach. We saw archeological strata of the Chumash Indians garbage dump, wonderful wild flowers and the prize...the only Torres Pine forest there is anywhere!  Later we sailed around to the west side of the island to see a penapeds, beaches full of sea elephants, sea lions and seals together in the sun, no females though. We spent the last night off Santa Rosa Island.

As we returned to Santa Barbara Harbor this wonderful welcome greeted us, several seals sitting on this buoy!
A truly remarkable experience. Thank you Sierra Club Los Angeles Chapter! Thank you new friends in the Sierra Club. People from Philadelphia, PA and New Mexico as well as up and down the state of California all bonded together for this extraordinary experience!

By 2011, the Islands should be almost totally free of modern civilization and have reverted back to its native vegetation and fauna wildlife! Not far from the overdeveloped Los Angeles area, here is a most amazing preservation and obviously beloved National Wildlife Refuge...The Channel Islands National Marine Life Sanctuary.

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