Coronado Islands

The Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado or Islas Coronados; English: Islands of the Coronation(s)) are a group of four islands off the northwest coast of the Mexican state of Baja California. Battered by the wind and waves, they are largely barren and uninhabited except for a small military detachment and a few lighthouse keepers. The islands lie between 15 and 19 miles south of the entrance to San Diego bay, but only 8 miles from the Mexican mainland.

Coronado Islands Map
A map of the four Coronado Islands.
The Coronado Islands, viewed from Tijuana beach
Border Patrol Vehicle near U.S. Mexico Border
At the US-Mexico border. The visible islands are Islas Coronado

The Coronado Islands

The Coronado Islands are a Mexican wildlife refuge; visitors may anchor, scuba, and snorkel, but trips ashore are not allowed.


The Coronado Islands are part of the municipality of Tijuana, Baja California, as ruled in the books of the Baja Californian Government, published on December 20, 1959:

Article 7 - the state of Baja California is divided and understood as the following municipalities .... Tijuana.

c) The Municipality of Tijuana is made up of ..... in addition; The Coronado Islands correspond to the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Tijuana, which lie on the extremes of the municipality to the Pacific Ocean.

In September 1542 Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo described them as islas desiertas (desert islands). In 1602 the priest for Sebastián Vizcaíno called them Los Cuatro Coronados (the four crowned ones) to honour four martyrs. Although they have been called a dozen other names (later fisherman upon seeing floating coffins, ghostly faces and shrouded bodies amid the rocks dubbed them: Old Stone Face, The Sarcophagi, Dead Man's Island, and Corpus Christi) they also have been provocatively called The Sentries of San Diego Bay even though they belong to Mexico.

In the 1920s and 1930s, during Prohibition in the United States, the cove on the Northeast side of South Coronado Island was used as a meeting place for alcohol smugglers. Since it was the time before radar, and as foggy nights are common, the large number of boats frequently resulted in collisions. There was so much traffic that a famous casino flourished there until well into the Depression. Only the stone foundation remains though the name Smugglers Cove, and more rarely Casino Cove, adorn modern maps.

In May 1943 the U.S. Navy's USS PC-815, commanded by L. Ron Hubbard, conducted unauthorized gunnery exercises involving the shelling of the Coronado Islands, in the belief they were uninhabited and belonged to the United States. Unfortunately for Hubbard, the islands belonged to Mexico and were occupied by the Mexican Coast Guard. The Mexican government complained and Hubbard was relieved of command.[2]

The islands are also a popular location for yellowtail fishing for San Diego fishermen.

Flora and fauna

On the North and South Coronados there are sea dahlias, various species of cactus, wild cucumber and houseleek.

There are colonies of birds that nest on the islands and can be spotted in the nearby waters like gulls, cormorants, pelicans, storm-petrels, and alcids. The Coronado Islands have the largest known colony of the rare Scripps's murrelet.[3] Pilón de Azúcar, better known as Middle Rock, is host to the northernmost nesting colony of brown boobies on the west coast of North America.

Ten species of reptiles and amphibians are also found on the islands. The best known is the Coronado rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus caliginis), which is a smaller subspecies than the one found on the mainland. There is also the Coronado Island gopher snake, which feeds off birds' eggs, the Coronado skink, which is found on all four islands, and the arboreal salamanders which live on the three biggest islands. Southern alligator lizards are found on the north, south and central islands.[4]

There are two types of mammals in the islands: rabbits and mice. How they reached the islands is currently unknown.

Sea mammals are plentiful and it is not uncommon to see groups of California sea lions and seals. Middle Island is home to a small colony of Northern elephant seals.


  1. ^ a b c d Google Earth
  2. ^ Miller, Russel (1988). Bare-faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard. New York: Henry Holt. pp. 106–107. ISBN 1-55013-027-7.
  3. ^ "UCSC graduate student's research leads to environmental victory in Coronado Islands". 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  4. ^ Cunningham, John D. (1956-09-01). "Food Habits of the San Diego Alligator Lizard". Herpetologica. 12 (3): 225–230. JSTOR 3889775.


External links

Alfred Brazier Howell

Alfred Brazier Howell (28 July 1886, Catonsville, Maryland – 23 December 1961, Bangor, Maine) was an American zoologist, primarily a mammalogist.A. B. Howell was the son of Darius Carpenter Howell, Sr. (1820–1887) and his second wife Katherine Elinor Hyatt Howell. A. B. Howell attended The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania for four years, graduating in 1905. He spent one year (1905–1906) at Yale University and then received no more formal academic education. In 1910 he moved to California, where he studied the birds of the Channel Islands of California and the Coronado Islands of Baja California. In 1918 he went on a collecting expedition to Arizona. In 1921 he became vice-president of the Cooper Ornithological Society. In 1922 he moved to Washington D.C.. In 1923 and in 1924, he went on collecting expeditions in California.

Howell worked from 1923 to 1927 as a scientific assistant with the United States Biological Survey. From 1928 to 1943 he taught anatomy at the Department of Anatomy of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

In 1929, with Remington Kellogg, he organized the Council for the Conservation of Whales (also involved in the conservation of other marine mammals). Howell was vice-president from 1938 to 1942 and president from 1942 to 1944 of the American Society of Mammalogists.

He married Margaret Gray Sherk in 1914. At the Cooper Ornithological Society, A. Brazier Howell, Harry R. Painton, and Frances F. Roberts have cash awards named after them.

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument is at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula in San Diego, California, United States. It commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542. This event marked the first time a European expedition had set foot on what later became the West Coast of the United States. The site was designated as California Historical Landmark #56 in 1932. As with all historical units of the National Park Service, Cabrillo was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.The annual Cabrillo Festival Open House is held on a Sunday each October. It commemorates Cabrillo with a reenactment of his landing at Ballast Point, in San Diego Bay. Other events are held above at the National Monument and include Kumeyaay, Portuguese, and Mexican singing and dancing, booths with period and regional food, a historical reenactment of a 16th-century encampment, and children's activities.

The park offers a view of San Diego's harbor and skyline, as well as Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island. On clear days, a wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Tijuana, and Mexico's Coronado Islands are also visible. A visitor center screens a film about Cabrillo's voyage and has exhibits about the expedition.

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is the highest point in the park and has been a San Diego icon since 1855. The lighthouse was closed in 1891, and a new one opened at a lower elevation, because fog and low clouds often obscured the light at its location 129 meters (422 feet) above sea level. The old lighthouse is now a museum, and visitors may enter it and view some of the living areas.

The area encompassed by the national monument includes various former military installations, such as coastal artillery batteries, built to protect the harbor of San Diego from enemy warships. Many of these installations can be seen while walking around the area. A former army building hosts an exhibit that tells the story of military history at Point Loma.

The area near the national monument entrance was used for gliding activities in 1929-1935. Several soaring endurance records were established here by William Hawley Bowlus and others including the first 1-hour flight in a sailplane, and a 15-hour flight in 1930 which surpassed the world record for soaring endurance. Even Charles Lindbergh soared in a Bowlus sailplane along the cliffs of Point Loma in 1930. Markers for these accomplishments can be found near the entrance, and the site is recognized as a National Soaring Landmark by the National Soaring Museum.

California quail

The California quail (Callipepla californica), also known as the California valley quail or valley quail, is a small ground-dwelling bird in the New World quail family. These birds have a curving crest or plume, made of six feathers, that droops forward: black in males and brown in females; the flanks are brown with white streaks. Males have a dark brown cap and a black face with a brown back, a grey-blue chest and a light brown belly. Females and immature birds are mainly grey-brown with a light-colored belly.

Their closest relative is Gambel's quail which has a more southerly distribution and, a longer crest at 2.5 in (6.4 cm), a brighter head and a scalier appearance. The two species separated about 1–2 million years ago, during the Late Pliocene or Early Pleistocene. It is the state bird of California.

Channel Islands (California)

The Channel Islands form an eight-island archipelago along the Santa Barbara Channel in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. Five of the islands are part of Channel Islands National Park, and the waters surrounding these islands make up Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The islands were first colonized by the Chumash and Tongva Native Americans 13,000 years ago, who were then displaced by Spaniards who used the islands for fishing and agriculture. The U.S. military uses the islands as training grounds, weapons test sites, and as a strategic defensive location. The Channel Islands and the surrounding waters house a diverse ecosystem with many endemic species and subspecies. The islands harbor 150 unique species of plant that are found only on the Islands and nowhere else in the world.

Crockerella eriphyle

Crockerella eriphyle is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Clathurellidae.

Cuyamaca Peak

Cuyamaca Peak is a mountain peak of the Cuyamaca Mountains range, in San Diego County, Southern California.

List of islands by name (C)

This article features a list of islands sorted by their name beginning with the letter C.

Macrarene coronadoensis

Macrarene coronadoensis is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Liotiidae.

Margarita Peak

Margarita Peak is a prominent mountain in San Diego County. It is 9 miles (14 km) southwest of Murrieta Hot Springs and 9 miles (14 km) northwest of Fallbrook. Its 3,193-foot (973 m) summit is the 32nd most prominent peak in San Diego County. Margarita Peak is owned by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy, which has closed public access to the peak and the surrounding Margarita Peak Preserve for biological studies and sensitive habitat. The trail to the peak was relatively little-used and not known by many people. It was considered one of San Diego's greatest hidden gems, due to the breathtaking 360-degree panorama views at the top. The main trail begins on Margarita Road after the end of Tenaja Road 13 miles (21 km) southwest of I-15 and leads to nearby Margarita Lookout. Persons attempting to reach the peak must use a steep, poorly maintained firebreak that connects to the main trail. The hike to the top is 3 miles (4.8 km) each way.

Redonda Mesa

Redonda Mesa is a mesa type formation located in the southern Santa Ana Mountains, near the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. It is located in an unincorporated area of southwestern Riverside County.

The highest point of Redonda Mesa is 2,825 feet (861 m) in elevation.

San Diego Bay

San Diego Bay is a natural harbor and deepwater port located in San Diego County, California near the U.S.–Mexico border. The bay, which is 12 miles (19 km) long and 1 to 3 miles (1.6 to 4.8 km) wide, is the third largest of the three large, protected natural bays on California's entire 840 miles (1,350 km) long coastline after San Francisco Bay and Humboldt Bay. The highly urbanized land adjacent to the bay includes the city of San Diego (eighth largest city in the United States) and four other cities: National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and Coronado.

Considered to be one of the best natural harbors on the west coast of North America, it was colonized by Spain beginning in 1769. Later it served as base headquarters of major ships of the United States Navy in the Pacific until just before the United States entered World War II, when the newly organized United States Pacific Fleet primary base was transferred to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. However, San Diego Bay remains as a home port of major assets, including several aircraft carriers, of the United States Pacific Fleet, and as a result of base closures beginning in the 1980s, facilities in San Diego Bay are the major naval base facilities still in operation in California.

Scripps's murrelet

Scripps's murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi) is a small seabird found in the California Current system in the Pacific Ocean. This auk breeds on islands off California and Mexico. It is threatened by predators introduced to its breeding colonies and by oil spills.This species and the Guadalupe murrelet were considered conspecific and were known collectively as Xantus's murrelet until 2012. The two species are now considered distinct based on a lack of evidence of interbreeding at a shared nesting colony on the San Benito Islands, differences in facial pattern and bill shape, and differences in vocalizatons and genetics.

Seguenzia cervola

Seguenzia cervola is a species of extremely small deep water sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Seguenziidae.

Thunder Afloat

Thunder Afloat is a 1939 World War I naval film starring Wallace Beery and Chester Morris. The movie was directed by George B. Seitz.

The submarine sequences were shot with the cooperation of the U. S. Navy at Annapolis, Maryland and around the Coronado Islands off San Diego, California.

Tijuana Municipality

Tijuana Municipality is a municipality in the Mexican state of Baja California. Its municipal seat is located in the city of Tijuana. According to the 2010 census, the municipality had a population of 1,559,683 inhabitants, of whom 1,300,983, or 83.4%, lived in the city of Tijuana. The municipality maintained its position as 3rd most populated nationally as of 2015 census, only behind Ecatepec de Morelos and Iztapalapa (a Mexico City borough). Carlos Bustamante Anchondo of the PRI is the current municipal president. The municipality comprises the largest part of the Tijuana metropolitan area.

Tijuana is bordered to the south by the municipalities of Rosarito Beach and Ensenada; to the east, by the municipality of Tecate; to the west, by the Pacific Ocean; and to the north, by the international border with the United States, specifically the County of San Diego, California. The area of the municipality of Tijuana is 879.2 km² (339.46 sq mi); the municipality includes part of the Coronado Islands, located off the coast of the municipality in the Pacific Ocean.

The city of Tijuana's precise location is 32°32′05″N 117°02′37″W. It lies just south of San Diego, California. The adjacent city and former borough of Tijuana is Rosarito Beach.

USS PC-815

USS PC-815 was a PC-461-class submarine chaser built for the United States Navy during World War II. It was commanded for about eighty days in 1943 by L. Ron Hubbard, who later became the founder of Scientology. After Hubbard was removed from command for shelling Mexican territory, the PC-815 served as a shore patrol vessel off San Diego, California. She was lost with one of her crew in September 1945 after colliding with the destroyer USS Laffey. PC-815's short career led to the vessel being dubbed the "jinxed sub-chaser".

USS Wood (DD-317)

USS Wood (DD-317) was a Clemson-class destroyer in the United States Navy following World War I. She was the first Navy ship named for Navy Surgeon-General William M. Wood (1809–1880).

University of San Diego

The University of San Diego (USD) is a private Roman Catholic research university located in San Diego, California. Founded in 1949 as the San Diego College for Women and San Diego University, the academic institutions merged into the University of San Diego in 1972. Since then, the university has grown to comprise nine undergraduate and graduate schools, to include the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and School of Law. USD offers 79 undergraduate and graduate programs, and enrolls approximately 9,073 undergraduate, paralegal, graduate and law students.

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