San Miguel Island (Chumash: Tuqan) is the westernmost of California's Channel Islands, located across the Santa Barbara Channel in the Pacific Ocean, within Santa Barbara County, California. San Miguel is the sixth-largest of the eight Channel Islands at 9,325 acres (3,774 ha), including offshore islands and rocks. Prince Island, 700 m (2,300 ft) off the northeastern coast, measures 35 acres (14 ha) in area. The island, at its farthest extent, is 8 miles (13 km) long and 3.7 miles (6.0 km) wide.
San Miguel Island is part of Channel Islands National Park, and almost all of the island (8,960 acres (36.3 km2)) has also been designated as an archaeological district on the National Register of Historic Places. This westernmost Channel Island receives northwesterly winds and severe weather from the open ocean. The cold and nutrient-rich water surrounding the island is home to a diverse array of sea life that is not found on the southern islands.
San Miguel Island, together with numerous small islets around it, is defined by the United States Census Bureau as Block 3010, Block Group 3, Census Tract 29.10 of Santa Barbara County, California. The island is uninhabited. Highest peak is San Miguel Hill, at 831 feet (253 m). Submerged rocks make the nearly 28-mile (45 km) coastline a mariner's nightmare.
Archaeological research has shown that San Miguel Island was first settled by humans about 13,000 years ago, when San Miguel was still part of the larger Santarosae Island that was closer to the coast and connected the northern Channel Islands when sea levels were lower near the end of the Last Glacial. Because the northern Channel Islands have not been connected to the adjacent mainland in recent geological history, the Paleo-Indians who first settled the island clearly had boats and other maritime technologies. San Miguel was occupied by the ancestors of the Chumash people for many millennia, who developed a complex and rich maritime culture based on marine fishing, hunting, and gathering. Rough seas and risky landings did not daunt the Chumash people. They called the island Tuquan in the Chumash language, and for many centuries, they built and used sophisticated canoes, called tomols, made from sewn planks caulked with asphaltum (bitumen). In tomols, they fished and hunted in island waters and participated in active trade with their neighbors on the other islands and mainland.
The skull and bones of a man buried between 9,800 and 10,200 years ago, as indicated by radiocarbon dating and evaluation of artifacts buried with him, were exposed by beach erosion and discovered in 2005 by University of Oregon archaeologists. They were analyzed, but it was not possible to extract the Tuqan Man's DNA, though increasingly better testing and methods became available and were utilized. The remains were studied before their return to the island, which was delayed by resolution of tribal identification and ownership issues contingent on the precedent setting Kennewick Man case in Washington State. Under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), they were restored to the claiming Chumash tribe in May, 2018, for reburial on the island.
A remaining population of a dwarf species descended from Columbian mammoths, existed on Santarosae Island when it was first visited by Paleoindians, but were extinct for perhaps three millennia prior to the death of Tuqan Man. The midden at Daisy Cave is the oldest coastal shell midden in North America. There is evidence of the fishing prowess of inhabitants using their tomols, and which included nets, spears, rods, lines, and hooks. Two Chumash villages were active with about 100 inhabitants at the time of Cabrillo's visit in 1542 aboard the San Miguel. San Miguel is the name George Vancouver gave the island on his 1793 chart.
The first European explorer to land was the explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542, who commanded three Spanish ships that spent several weeks on the island while exploring the Santa Barbara Channel and California Coast. Cabrillo died on the island and is thought by many to have been buried there. The last of the island Chumash were removed to mainland missions and towns in the 1820s, leaving San Miguel largely uninhabited until ranchers raised sheep there from 1850 to 1948. One of the ranch families that homesteaded the longest was the Lesters, a family of four that left the island at the time of Pearl Harbor due to the dangers posed by the war.
George Nidever was the highest bidder for Samuel C. Bruce's property on the island in an auction held by the Santa Barbara County sheriff's office in June 1836. Bruce was one of the island's squatters. Nidever set up a sheep operation, but sold out to Hiram and Warren Mills in 1869. The Mills brothers eventually sold out to the Pacific Wool Growing Company. They sold their interest to David Fitzgibbon in 1887, who sold it back to Warren Mills, in partnership with William Waters. Warren Mills sold his interest to Elias Beckman in 1892. In 1897, Waters formed the San Miguel Island Company with Jeremiah Conroy, consisting of 3000 sheep and other livestock. Waters signed a 5-year lease with the federal government, which was renewed in 1916. Waters died in 1920, and the lease was renewed by his partners Robert Brooks and J.R. Moore. Brooks renewed the lease again in 1925, and again with the Dept. of the Navy in 1935. Brooks hired Herbert Lester to tenant manage the ranch in 1929, who did so with his family until his death in 1942. He is buried above Harris Point.:34–49
During WW II, the United States Navy stationed 3 sailor lookouts on the island. On July 5, 1943, a B-24 crashed into Green Mountain, killing all 12 aboard. In 1948, the navy reclaimed the island a target in its Pacific Missile Range for guided missiles and bombing. The National Park Service initiated a visitor program run by a resident ranger in 1978, but the navy retained ownership.:48–50
The National Park Service (NPS) maintains two airstrips, a ranger station and a research station on San Miguel Island. The Island is normally staffed by a ranger who enforces park laws, while also providing interpretive services for public visitors. The island also hosts scientists who study pinnipeds and manage the island fox captive breeding program that is conducted on the island. Volunteer interpretive rangers often fill in for regularly paid rangers due to budget deficits within the park.
In July, 2011, researchers discovered that a "loomerie" (breeding colony) of the California common murre (Uria aalge californica) had returned to Prince Island, an islet off San Miguel Island, for the first time since 1912. Like penguins, the football-size black-and-white seabirds use their wings to "fly" deep underwater, but unlike penguins, they also fly in the air. This colony disappeared nearly a century ago, likely because of egg harvesting, but now their southern range is re-established.
In the 1960s, northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) successfully recolonized San Miguel Island, making the island the 3rd American (and southernmost) breeding colony. The first seals had flipper tags identifying them as being from the Pribilof or Commander Islands in the Bering Sea. By 2006, nearly 100 pups were born. Today the San Miguel colony numbers around 10,000 animals, with the pup count alone reaching 1,709 individuals by 2016, reflecting a 45% average (but highly variable) annual increase in new pups over the past 21 years. Great White sharks that prey on the seals are fairly common in the waters around the island.
San Miguel Island does not receive protection from the open ocean as do the other Channel Islands. Most of the time a strong northwest wind blows across the island. These winds typically exceed 25 mph (40 km/h) and can surpass 50 mph (80 km/h). When strong high pressure is over the mainland, the winds often cease.
Heavy fog is common on the island, especially during May and June. On warmer days the fog will burn off only to have the strong northwest wind blow in additional fog from the open ocean. On foggy days the temperature will rarely exceed 55 °F (13 °C). Annual rainfall is about 17 inches, mostly falling between November and March.
In May 2016, the island was reopened to tourism, following a two-year U.S. Navy survey over 18 miles (29 km) of marked trails and high-use areas. The survey intended to remove any dangerous ordnance in those areas. The NPS escorts all visitors and limits visitors to the established trail system. The island will not be open at times when no NPS personnel are available to escort visitors. Visitors must now sign an access permit and liability waiver. Access permits are available at the boat and air concession offices and at a self-registration station at the Nidever Canyon trailhead on San Miguel Island.
Island Packers and Channel Islands Aviation have concession agreements to provide transportation to the Island. Channel Islands Aviation provides on-demand service. There is no transportation available on the islands. All areas must be accessed by foot, private boat or kayak.
Eight-foot seas (2.4 m) are not uncommon in the Pacific between Santa Rosa Island and San Miguel Island. The Island has no pier so all public visitors arriving by sea arrive by skiff at Cuyler Harbor. Landing on the island can be challenging, as the surf can swamp the landing boat. During ideal weather, visitors are put ashore directly in front of the trail that leads into the interior of the island. When the swell is high, visitors might be placed on the beach to the east or west, depending upon conditions.
San Miguel Island includes a campground with ten sites. Each campsite includes a picnic table, wind break and an animal-proof box. The campground includes one pit toilet. Fires are prohibited due to the high winds and the inability to extinguish them. Sturdy tents are recommended as the wind can exceed 50 mph (80 km/h), even during the summer. It is recommended that campers tie their tents to the wind break to keep them from blowing away when not being occupied.
With the exception of the trail leading from the beach in Cuyler Harbor to the campground and ranger station, hiking is restricted to ranger-led outings. Many visitors participate in the 14-mile (23 km) round trip hike to Point Bennett to view the thousands of elephant seals and sea lions that reside at the west end of the island during spring and summer. Another popular hike is to the Island's caliche forest. Caliche is a type of hardened calcium deposit.
Visitors to the island are restricted to ocean access at Cuyler Harbor. This landing is well protected from the strong ocean swell that is driven from the northwest. Cuyler has a sandy beach and visitors will often find themselves sharing the beach with elephant seals. The water is generally below 60 °F (16 °C), making it cold without a wetsuit. During low tides the harbor offers a tide pool area at the east end of the beach. Sea kayaking is not recommended for the novice as high winds can develop without notice. Bathers, divers and kayakers should be aware and alert to the occurrence of great white sharks in these waters. It is unwise to enter the water in early morning or late afternoon to early evening hours when sharks are feeding close to shore.
According to the Los Angeles Times, "Great white sharks haunt the waters around San Miguel Island, where they feast on seals and sea lions." Urchin diver, James Robinson, is believed to have been killed by a shark off Harris Point in the area known as Shark Park in 1994.
Blepsias cirrhosus, the silverspotted sculpin, is a scorpaeniform marine fish in the sea raven family Hemitripteridae, native to the northern Pacific Ocean from the Sea of Japan and Alaska to San Miguel Island off southern California. Its name originates from its elongated, sail-like first dorsal fin; the sailfin sculpin is also a popular subject in public aquariums. The fish exhibits a preying behavior of overrunning its prey, by rapidly accelerating just prior to capture, which it shares with other pelagic species such as Largemouth bass. This differs from other sculpin species that reside near the shore, such as the tidepool sculpin that instead decelerate during prey capture.Cadang-cadang
Cadang-cadang is a disease caused by Coconut cadang-cadang viroid (CCCVd), a lethal viroid of coconut (Cocos nucifera), anahaw (Saribus rotundifolius) buri (Corypha utan), and African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). The name cadang-cadang comes from the word gadang-gadang that means dying in Bicol. It was originally reported on San Miguel Island in the Philippines in 1927/1928. "By 1962, all but 100 of 250,000 palms on this island had died from the disease," indicating an epidemic. Every year one million coconut palms are killed by CCCVd and over 30 million coconut palms have been killed since Cadang-cadang has been discovered. CCCVd directly affects the production of copra, a raw material for coconut oil and animal feed. Total losses of about 30 million palms and annual yield losses of about 22,000 tons of copra have been attributed to Cadang-cadang disease in the Philippines.California mussel
The California mussel (Mytilus californianus) is a large edible mussel, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Mytilidae.
This species is native to the west coast of North America, occurring from northern Mexico to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. California mussels are found clustered together, often in very large aggregations, on rocks in the upper intertidal zone on the open coast, where they are exposed to the strong action of the surf.Castilleja mollis
Castilleja mollis is a species of Indian paintbrush known by the common name softleaf Indian paintbrush. It is endemic to the Channel Islands of California, where it is currently known only from Santa Rosa Island. An occurrence was once noted on San Miguel Island, but the plant has not been found there since 1938. Its habitat is the coastal sage scrub around the windy sand dunes and bluffs.Eriogonum grande
Eriogonum grande is a species of wild buckwheat known by the common name redflower buckwheat. It is native to northwestern Baja California, as well as the Channel Islands of California. It is a mat-forming perennial herb producing tall, stout inflorescences of white, pink, or red flowers. Leaves are located mainly at the base of the plant and are wavy along the edges and up to 10 centimeters long.
There are three varieties of this species:
E. g. var. grande - Pacific Island wild buckwheat, redflower buckwheat - found on several of the Channel Islands
E. g. var. rubescens - San Miguel Island buckwheat, red-flowered Pacific Island wild buckwheat - found on the northern Channel Islands
E. g. var. timorum - San Nicolas Island buckwheat - rare and endemic to San Nicolas IslandFort San Miguel
Fort San Miguel was a Spanish fortification at Yuquot (formerly Friendly Cove) on Nootka Island, just west of north-central Vancouver Island. It protected the Spanish settlement, called Santa Cruz de Nuca, the first colony in British Columbia.Island fox
The island fox (Urocyon littoralis) is a small fox that is native to six of the eight Channel Islands of California. There are six subspecies, each unique to the island it lives on, reflecting its evolutionary history.Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo (Portuguese: João Rodrigues Cabrilho; 1497 – January 3, 1543) was a Spanish explorer born in Palma del Rio, Córdoba, Spain, although he is also claimed by tradition as a native of Portugal. Among other things he was a maritime navigator known for exploring the West Coast of North America on behalf of the Spanish Empire. Cabrillo was the first European to navigate the coast of present-day California. He is best known for his exploration of the coast of California in 1542–1543. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo served under the command of Pánfilo de Narváez and aided him in the conquest of Cuba about 1518.Lutica
Lutica is a genus of zodariid spiders that occurs only in North America on both the mainland California coast and the Channel Islands. Lutica abalonea is known from the coast west of Oxnard, California, Lutica clementea is known from San Clemente Island, Lutica maculata is known from Santa Rosa Island, and Lutica nicolasia is known from San Nicolas Island. It is believed that there is another species found on San Miguel Island, though it has not been described due to lack of adult specimens.These spiders are found living in coastal sand dunes in and around clumps of foliage. Unlike many spiders, Lutica build web tubes that are covered in sand. These tubes are used to detect prey, such as Coelus globosus, when they cross the tube, similar to the hunting style of purseweb spiders. Lutica also do not balloon as most spiders do but rather stay fairly close to their initial locations in their dune environment and non-reproductive terrestrial migration is uncommon.Malacothrix indecora
Malacothrix indecora is a rare species of flowering plant in the aster family known by the common name Santa Cruz Island desertdandelion. It is endemic to the Channel Islands of California, where it is known from only a few populations on three of the eight islands. As of 2000, there were three occurrences on San Miguel Island, two on Santa Rosa Island, and one on Santa Cruz Island. It grows on the bluffs and rocky coastal grasslands of the islands. Like many Channel Islands endemics, this plant is naturally limited in distribution and has been threatened by the presence of destructive introduced mammals, in this case, feral pigs. The plant became a federally listed endangered species in 1997. This is a mat-forming annual herb which spreads low to the ground no more than about 10 centimeters high. The fleshy leaves have dull lobes. The inflorescence is an array of flower heads lined with oval-shaped phyllaries. The ray florets are under a centimeter long and yellow in color.Mount Wilson (California)
Mount Wilson is a peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, located within the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, California. With only minor topographical prominence the peak is not naturally noticeable from a distance, although it is easily identifiable due to the large number of antennas near its summit. It is a subsidiary peak of nearby San Gabriel Peak.
It is the location of the Mount Wilson Observatory, which is an important astronomical facility in Southern California with historic 60-inch (1,524 mm) and 100-inch (2,540 mm) telescopes, and 60-foot (18.3 m) and 150-foot (45.7 m) solar towers. The newer CHARA Array, run by Georgia State University, is also sited there and does important interferometric stellar research.
The summit is at 5,710 feet (1,740 m). While not the tallest peak in its vicinity, it is high enough in elevation that snow can sometimes interrupt astronomical activities on the mountain. All of the mountains south of the summit are far shorter leading to unobstructed views across the Los Angeles Basin, Orange County, the Inland Empire, and out to Ventura County, San Diego County and the Pacific Ocean. On most days Santa Catalina Island, California, some 65 miles south, is visible. On clear days, other Channel Islands visible include San Clemente Island at 95 miles, Santa Barbara Island at 76 miles, San Nicolas Island at 107 miles, Santa Cruz Island at 98 miles and San Miguel Island at 133 miles. At an elevation of 5,710 feet, the horizon on the ocean extends 92 miles.
Mount Wilson is also heavily utilized for relay broadcasting of radio and television for the Greater Los Angeles Area.
The FM broadcasters include but are not limited to KRRL-FM 92.3, KCBS-FM 93.1, KTWV 94.7, KKLQ-FM 100.3, KIIS-FM 102.7, KOST-FM 103.5, and KBIG-FM 104.3.Niebla sorocarpia
Niebla sorocarpia is a fruticose lichen that grows on rocks along the foggy Pacific Coast of California in the Channel Islands (San Miguel Island) and in Baja California in the Northern Vizcaíno Desert. The epithet, sorocarpia, is in reference to the terminal aggregate apothecia.Peromyscus nesodytes
The giant island deer mouse (Peromyscus nesodytes) became extinct approximately 8000 years BP and lived during the late Pleistocene on California’s Channel Islands.SS Cuba (1920)
The Cuba was a steamship owned by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. Originally launched in 1897 as the German SS Coblenz, she was seized by the United States in 1917, and named SS Sachem, until Pacific Mail purchased her from the Shipping Board on February 6, 1920 for US$400,000 and renamed SS Cuba.Pacific Mail first used the Cuba to carry passengers and cargo between San Francisco, California, and Havana, Cuba, then shifted to a San Francisco-to-Cristobal route.
On the morning of September 8, 1923, Cuba struck a reef just off San Miguel Island in the Santa Barbara Channel off Point Arguello and the coast of Santa Barbara County, California. All aboard survived and were rescued, but the Cuba was a total loss.
The ship's radio was out. She had been navigating through a dense fog for several days. Later that day, nine US Navy destroyers ran aground nearby in the Honda Point Disaster.
The wreck is located at approximately 34.032°N 120.454°W / 34.032; -120.454.Sailfin sculpin
The sailfin sculpin (Nautichthys oculofasciatus, lit. "eye-banded sailor fish") is a species of scorpaeniform marine fish in the sea raven family Hemitripteridae, native to the eastern Pacific Ocean from St. Lawrence Island, Alaska to San Miguel Island off southern California. Named for its elongated, sail-like first dorsal fin, the sailfin sculpin is a popular subject of public aquaria; it is of no interest to commercial fishery.San Miguel Island (Masbate)
San Miguel Island is an island under the jurisdiction of the Philippine province of Masbate. The island has a lighthouse mounted atop a concrete tower. San Miguel Island is located "just off the northern tip" of Ticao Island.San Miguel Island (Philippines)
San Miguel Island is an island in the province of Albay in the Philippines located at the western end of the strip of islands in the Lagonoy Gulf. The island is under the jurisdiction of the city of Tabaco, and comprises five barangays: Angas, Hacienda, Rawis, Sagurong and Visita. The main economic activities are farming, fishing, basket and mat weaving, and cattle raising.Tabaco
Tabaco, officially the City of Tabaco, (Central Bicolano: Ciudad kan Tabaco; Tagalog: Lungsod ng Tabaco), or simply referred to as Tabaco City is a 4th class city in the province of Albay, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 133,868 people.It is one of the three component cities of the province, along with Legazpi City and Ligao City. The mainland part of the city is bordered by the town of Malinao to the north, the towns of Polangui and Oas to the west, Ligao City to the southwest, Malilipot town to the southeast, and Lagonoy Gulf to the east. The symmetric Mayon Volcano, the most active volcano in the Philippines, lies south of the city. Tabaco is one of the eight towns and cities that share jurisdiction on the volcano, dividing the peak like slices of a pie when viewed from above.
The island of San Miguel, the westernmost of the four main islands in the Lagonoy Gulf, falls under the jurisdiction of Tabaco. Five of the barangays of the city are located on the island for a total of 47 barangays composing the city.Ticao Island
Ticao Island, is an island with a total land area of (334 km2 or 129 sq mi) is one of the three major islands of Masbate province in the Philippines. It is separated from the Bicol Peninsula by the Ticao Pass. The other two major islands are Masbate Island (3,290 km2 or 1,270 sq mi) and Burias Island (424 km2 or 164 sq mi).The island is divided into the municipalities of Batuan, Monreal, San Fernando and its mother-town, San Jacinto.
San Miguel Island is located "just off the northern tip" of Ticao Island.
|Climate data for San Miguel Island (1981 - 2010)|
|Average high °F (°C)||58.8
|Daily mean °F (°C)||54.5
|Average low °F (°C)||50.2
|Average rainfall inches (mm)||2.33