Day Trippin’ – Santa Cruz Island

A few weeks ago I had the best day of work… EVER! I had the opportunity to chaperone a field trip out to Santa Cruz Island, which is one of the Channel Islands right off the coast of Ventura. I have been out there a handful of times before, I love this trip so much.

The day started out with a 2 hour boat trip to the island courtesy of Island Packers Cruises. This company is the go-t for anyone wanting to get to the Channel Islands. They are an amazing group, and, bonus, one of my former students was working the boat! It’s always fun to see former students in the wild!!!

Since it is whale migration season (they are headed from Mexico up to Alaska for the summer) I had high hopes of seeing one on the journey. I was not disappointed when we got to see not only a Humpback Whale but a Grey Whale as well! The Humpback Whale put on quite the show for us as he was feeding and we got to stop and watch him for awhile. There are also Orcas that migrate this route, and while I have seen an Orca in the past, we did not see one this time. But, there were hundreds of dolphins that swam alongside our boat and surfed our wake – which was super awesome to watch!

Once we got to the island we were ferried from the boat to the island via a tiny little skiff (my first tie doing this!) and then we had our lunch on a small beach that was full of the most magnificent shells. After that it was time for the hike. The island is about 96 sq. miles, but we only hiked a few with the students. I loved all the different flora and fauna of the island and seeing how different species adapted to island life from the mainland. Our guide, Andrea, from Island Packers, was so knowledgeable and really taught us all about life on the island.

On of the absolute highlights of the day was getting to encounter an Island Fox firsthand. These adorable little foxes, roughly 3-4 lbs in size, were on the brink of extinction less than 20 years ago. Through the efforts of the Nature Conservatory, these foxes have been brought back and are thriving on the island. The first time I went to the island 15 years ago – they were no where to be found. Now, they are everywhere! We had one come within inches of us on the hike – totally fearless around humans. I loved it!

If you are ever on the central coast, I strongly urge you to book a trip out to the Channel Islands. There is so much to see ,and so much unique plants and animals to encounter- it is one of my most memorable adventures to date!

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