Research Reveals the Lone Woman May Not Have Been Alone on San Nicolas Island

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Date: April 9, 2018
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

For the April From Shore to Sea lecture, researcher Susan Morris will reveal new evidence that there were visitors to San Nicolas Island and the surrounding waters when the Lone Woman was thought to have been there alone for 18 years.

Depicted in the 6th best-selling children’s novel Island of the Blue Dolphins, the story of the Lone Woman is based on the true story of a Native American woman who was left alone on San Nicolas Island from 1835 to 1853. 

Morris and her colleagues located unique, never-before-published historical documents that record sailors setting foot on San Nicolas Island while the Lone Woman was there. In 1846, one vessel offloaded cargo on the island to avoid tariffs and left a sailor to guard it for over two months. 

Her research discloses that numerous sailing ships traversed the Pacific near the island and either landed on San Nicolas Island or anchored nearby. The Lone Woman likely witnessed commercial activities such as otter hunting and Chinese abalone harvesting and possibly encountered smugglers, surveyors, elephant seal hunters, or scientists who visited the island. 

Since 1987, Morris has participated as a researcher in field studies on seven of the eight Channel Islands, working on archaeology, paleontology, geology, and biology projects. She was the Principle Investigator of a cave-associated archaeological site survey on Santa Rosa Island. For the past eight years, Morris has focused her research on the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island, contributing content to the new National Park Service Island of the Blue Dolphins website.

The talk will be held on Thursday, April 12, 2018. 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 2018 lecture series will take place at 7:00 pm on the second Thursday of each month, February through April and September through 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.

Last updated: April 10, 2018

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