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Cut Short by War: Tthe Channel Islands Biological Survey

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Date: April 24, 2014
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-65-5725

Channel Islands National Park welcomes Corinne Heyning Laverty for a special lecture in May about the history of the Channel Islands Biological Survey. Noteworthy discoveries of the survey include the "Lone Woman's" whalebone hut on San Nicolas Island and Big Dog Cave on San Clemente Island.

Laverty will describe the research expeditions to the eight California Channel Islands that were led by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County from 1939 to 1941. Museum scientists made 13 trips to conduct biological, geological, archeological, paleontological, and historical research.

The planned five-year survey began in February 1939 but was cut short by the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Survey scientists were stranded on Santa Rosa Island after the bombing, ending the survey.

Laverty will share accounts of the 33 men and women who took part in the survey and photographs of the scientists during their 1,400 days of fieldwork on the islands. Information about the expeditions is drawn from interviews with the last living person who participated in the survey, as well as journals, diaries, letters, newspaper accounts,and reports from the archives of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and other locations.

Laverty, a researcher and writer based in Manhattan Beach, has been an editor and senior writer for Agaltia's news publication and a staff writer for the Easy Reader newspaper. She is published in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and Malibu Times newspapers; EcoTraveler, Whale Watcher, and Terra magazines; and numerous other publications.

The talk will be held on May 14, 2014. The From Shore to Sea lecture series is sponsored by Channel Islands National Park to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding marine waters. The lectures occur at 7:00 pm on the second Wednesday of March, April, May, September, October, and November at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.  

Did You Know?

1994 pygmy mammoth excavation, Santa Rosa Island

The world's most complete pygmy mammoth specimen was discovered on Santa Rosa Island in 1994. These miniature mammoths, only four to six feet tall, once roamed island grasslands and forests during the Pleistocene.