The Mini Magical Island of Santa Barbara

en route to SB island

At the end of the calm 40nm passage to Santa Barbara Island Michael hollered: Fish! Fish! The trolling line was buzzing out and the sparkling hues of the fish jumped above the water’s edge. A shining bonito was our first catch of the trip – we were stoked!

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A sashimi appetizer followed with green onions, wasabi, and shoyu. You should have seen all our faces as the freshness and deliciousness of the fish caused us all to unanimously raise our eyebrows, in a ‘holy-smokes-this-is-freakin-delicious!’ kind of way. It was the best sashimi I have ever eaten.

doesn't get much fresher than this!

doesn’t get much fresher than this!

It was my first time visiting Santa Barbara Island, the smallest of our local islands, and boy was I taken away by its magic. We pulled into the lee of the island late afternoon with enough daylight to go for a dive. The island was teaming with life.

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Numerous birds flew overhead, and the fish were bountiful below. We speared a sheepshead and an opaleye for a ceviche & fish taco dinner (respectively).

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The crew was aching for exercise, so the following morning just after sunrise, we launched our red skiff Luna-Bell and paddled to shore. The landing on the pier was challenging as the south swell churned the waters into a turbulent mess around us. But we were all able to safely clamber up to shore.

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Jogging around the island felt like the hills of Ireland – rolling, barren and dramatic. The view of Elephant Seal Cove and the giant cliffs in the North side are fantastic!

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At the National Park Ranger station, we met a biologist named Jim. He showed us the nest of a little tiny native bird called the Scripps Murrelet – it is so furry and cute! He said that about 200 years ago there were so many birds that it was hard to walk around the island – then cats and rats brought by ranchers made easy prey of these birds as they hide under bushes instead of flying away. Sheep grazing destroyed the native plants that the birds used as habitat, and in their place the ice plant took over.

Red ice plant covers the hills of SB Island

Red ice plant covers the hills of SB Island

We thought the ice plant looked so pretty in its red fields around the islands, little did we know it is a vicious little plant, which increases the salinity of the soil resultantly making it uninhabitable for other plants.

Biologist, Jim Howard, showing us some native seedlings

Biologist, Jim Howard, showing us some native seedlings

Jim explained the restoration process involved removing the exotic predators from the island as well as planting native bushes, all in the hopes of helping the seabirds find a home again. Great news is that their numbers have increased, especially on Anacapa island. You can support their efforts by checking out their website and visiting this magical island yourself.

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Next up: The Burly Military Island of San Clemente

6 thoughts on “The Mini Magical Island of Santa Barbara

  1. Loved it!
    What wonderful meals you are having!
    And super interesting to know about the work is being done to restore vegetation and wild life in the islands!

    • The consensus is that we eat better onboard Aldebaran than we do back at home- every meal has been delicious! Let’s see how long we can keep it up for 🙂
      Mamma Beadle would be proud. Much love!

  2. Hi Sabrina and Christian,
    I want to be along for the ride. Please sign me up to receive your blog. The meals sound fantastic!
    Love Flora

    • Thanks Flora! I put your email address in to follow the blog so you should be receiving updates as we post now. Thanks for your love and support. Send our love to the family…

    • Thanks Lee! Michael has been in seventh heaven with all the beautiful fish and waves. He sends his love. We are now in Cabo San Lucas provisioning before setting off to the East Cape, Isla Espiritu Santo, then Mazatlan. Our friends Brian and Eric just flew in for a week and will be helping us broaden our diving knowledge. Cheers!

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