Channel Islands (California)

The Channel Islands (Spanish: islas del Canal, ArchipiƩlago del Norte) are an eight-island archipelago located within the Southern California Bight in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California. The four Northern Channel Islands are part of the Transverse Ranges geologic province, and the four Southern Channel Islands are part of the Peninsular Ranges province.[1] Five of the islands are within the Channel Islands National Park, and the waters surrounding these islands make up Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The Nature Conservancy was instrumental in establishing the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The islands were inhabited as early as 13,000 years ago, the earliest paleontological evidence of humans in North America. They are the easternmost islands in the Pacific Island group.

Channel Islands
Spanish: ArchipiƩlago del Norte
LocationPacific Ocean
Total islands8
Area350.89 sq mi (908.8 km2)
Highest elevation2,429 ft (740.4 m)
Highest pointDevils Peak, Santa Cruz Island
United States
Largest settlementAvalon (pop. 3,728)
Population4,603 (2010)
Beach of Santa Cruz Island
Beach at San Miguel

The Chumash and Tongva Native Americans who lived later on the islands may be the descendants of the original inhabitants, but they were then displaced by Spaniards who used the islands for fishing and agriculture. The U.S. military uses the islands as training grounds, weapons test sites, and as a strategic defensive location. The Channel Islands and the surrounding waters house a diverse ecosystem with many endemic species and subspecies. The islands harbor 150 unique species of plant.[2]

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