We've become sailors again. We set back in the water on Friday, a week ago, and then promptly left on Saturday to go out to Santa Cruz Island. I've been through these islands before, but in a rush, so this was going to be a nice slow trip. But the weather wasn't quite on board with that plan, so as we crossed the big channel, the winds began to pick up and shift against us. Soon we were beating into heavy seas and fairly strong winds, reminding Lindsay why she doesn't like sailing. We anchored on the West point of Santa Cruz island and set about checking out the local flora and fauna. Dead things on the beach was the first priority.
After Dead things is things where you can't really say how or in what classification they live. A lichen would do nicely. Is it really alive? I like this one because it has such tree-like tendencies.
Then plants. I love the cacti, of course, and this one prickled nicely.
Then the local animals. This was about 4 ft tall, and the owner must have let him off his leash for a moment too long and he hopped away! I like these little sand hoppers.
Now, on to the birds. We saw a Red-Footed Booby! I've seen these before, about 900 miles southeast of here, but I didn't know they went this far north! I think this one was resting before going back south.
This is a mystery bird, I guess I need to look it up in the book, but there are tons of these shearwater/petrel things all over the place, eating krill, no doubt.
We went to Santa Rosa Island next, then to San Miguel, and found ourselves near some giants. The Elephant Seals! I love how human they are, with sneezing and expressions and their scratchy noses. Lindsay told me that they are her spirit animal, because of the farting noises and general snoozy behavior they have.
Again, the little tree that I cannot ID, out on San Miguel. I love the thing but I don't know what it is. Little and beaten by the winds.
We went back to Santa Rosa and went birdwatching. And found some Snowy Plovers!
And Perigrine Falcons!
The Falcons are excellent at their work, and some of their kills showed up in the tide line, monsters from the deep underworld, with teeth and jaws and tentacles? These are actually Sea Lions, probably killed by sharks. An interesting story about sharks.... Lindsay and I went diving and I brought my spear gun, on the south side of Santa Rosa Island. I shot a nice California Sheepshead, and then got out of the water. Lindsay opted to stay in for a bit longer and after about 10 minutes it took to clean the fish and dispose of the remains, she turns around to find a shark 5 ft away from her and looking her in the eye. I hear a squealing and the fin of the shark for a second, then it dives, goes under her and off in search of the fish. She comes back to the boat and gets out post-haste, and we haven't gone back in the water since. Hopefully the fear will pass.
I've never seen a Sand Dollar like this before, have you?
Again with the snowy plovers. I love their little-ness.
And Altair cozy up and anchored away. We'll spend a few days here in Goleta, next to the UCSB campus and surf a bunch before going back out to the islands again.