Island History & Culture
Seabirds are probably the most conspicuous wildlife on Anacapa Island. Thousands of birds use Anacapa as a nesting area because of the relative lack of predators on the island. While the steep cliffs of West Anacapa are home to the largest breeding colony of endangered California brown pelicans, all the islets of Anacapa host the largest breeding colony of western gulls in the world. Western gulls begin their nesting efforts at the end of April, sometimes making their shallow nests just inches from island trails. Fluffy chicks hatch in May and June and fly away from the nest in July.
The rocky shores of Anacapa are perfect resting and breeding areas for California sea lions and harbor seals. The raucous barking of sea lions can be heard from most areas of the island. Two overlooks (Cathedral Cove and Pinniped Point) provide excellent spots to look down on seals and sea lions in the island coves.
Anacapa's rich kelp forests (ideal for kayaking, snorkeling, and diving) and tidepool areas provide visitors with the opportunity to meet some of the resident ocean animals up close. Visitors may also catch a glimpse of the fascinating undersea world of the kelp forest without getting wet. During the spring and summer, park rangers dive into the Landing Cove on East Anacapa with a video camera. Visitors can see, through the eye of the camera, what the diver is seeing-bright sea stars, spiny sea urchins, and brilliant orange Garibaldi-by watching video monitors located on the dock, in the mainland visitor center auditorium, in classrooms, or via the Internet. And, divers can answer questions from visitors as part of this distance learning program.
Anacapa Island has a rich human history as well. Shell midden sites indicate where Chumash people camped on the islands thousands of years ago. In addition, visitors can view the 1932 light station whose mission revival style buildings include the lighthouse, fog signal building, one of four original keeper's quarters, a water tank building, and several other service buildings. The original lead-crystal Fresnel lens, which served as a beacon to ships until an automated light replaced it in 1990, is on exhibit in the East Anacapa Visitor Center.