February 2021 Director’s Message

Ventura County Kiddie Beach, sans kids

The more things change the more they stay the same.  2021 is feeling a lot like 2020, even though we have COVID vaccines rolling out and a new administration in the White House.  Can’t we all just get along??  Hopefully in the near future the vaccines will make a difference, and everyone can start concentrating…

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Whale Watching Season is Here!

A grey whale arcs backwards over the water, a small whale-watching ship in the background

Whale watching can be a thrilling experience, especially in the Channel Islands region. On your tour, there’s a great chance you will see Blue Whales, Humpback Whales, Finback Whales and Gray Whales. Before you begin your adventure, being prepared for your whale watch and knowing what to expect can make your trip a successful one. Following these tips will help you get the most out of your excursion. Businesses offering whale watching excursions are following all Local, State, and Federal guidelines when it comes to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Book Your Trip With a Reputable Company

If you’re going whale watching, you don’t have to look any further than the Channel Islands Harbor.

Islands Packers Whale Watching tours depart for a 3 to 3 ½ hour cruise along the Santa Barbara Channel. If you increase your trip from a half day to a full day, you can enjoy a landing on the Channel Islands at Anacapa Island or Santa Cruz Island.

Channel Islands Whale Watching offers breathtaking excursions through the waters surrounding Channel Islands National Park and the National Marine Sanctuary. Hop aboard Ranger 85 with Captain Frank, who began his career at sea in 1976 and has been offering eco tours since 1990. Captain Frank offers AM and PM cruises.

Channel Islands Expeditions runs daily 3.5 hour whale watching trips aboard the 54′ SUNFISH. Enjoy outdoor seating from a wrap around deck and close and incredible encounters with the California Grey Whale and other baleen whales. Trips depart at 8:30am and return at noon. Adults- $58, Children $44, Seniors $56 – 100%. Guaranteed to see whales or return for FREE!

Check The Weather and The Marine Forecast

If you’re not sure about rough seas or whether or not you’ll get motion sickness, you’ll probably want to go whale watching on the calmest day possible. Check not only the weather forecast, but the marine forecast. If the forecast is for high winds and seas, it’s likely you’ll have a rocky trip.

Check The Sightings

Whales are wild animals, so sightings can never really be guaranteed. You will want to check on recent sightings by visiting the Islands Packers Whale Watching, Channel Islands Whale Watching, and Channel Islands Expeditions websites. Even if you don’t see whales, there’s a great chance you will also encounter a wide variety of marine life including dolphins, seals, sea lions, and a rich variety of bird life; some of which are endangered and protected.

Pack For A Day At Sea

Here’s a list of essentials:

Bring a smartphone or camera to record your experience or capture a cool pic. Make sure your phone is charged or bring plenty of batteries and a clear memory card in case the sightings are spectacular. Keep in mind that the average point-and-shoot camera might not deliver the speed and magnification needed to get the best pictures. If you have a 35mm camera, a 200-300mm lens provides the most zoom and stability for whale watching. Remember to get fun shots of you and/or your family and use #channelislandsharbor when posting on social media.

Binoculars are a must! With binoculars you might be able to catch all those easy to miss details.

Dress in layers, wear sturdy, rubber-soled shoes, and bring a rain jacket if there’s even the slightest chance of rain. Wear plenty of sunscreen and a hat! Remember that it can be a bit cooler on the ocean.

Get There On Time

Follow the company’s guidelines as to when to arrive for boarding the boat. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time to stand in line for tickets and get on board. Whale watching should be a fun, relaxing experience, and rushing around at the beginning makes for a hectic start.

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Maritime Museum Offers Virtual Speakers Series

Channel Islands Maritime Museum

The Channel Islands Maritime Museum is proud to welcome Keri Dearborn and Mike Watling of Friends of the Island Fox to its 2021 Speaker Series on Wednesday, February 17th, starting 5:30 pm. Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, this will be an on-line event on the Museum’s website at www.cimmvc.org.

Between 1994 and 2000 the populations of island foxes on four of the Channel Islands plunged toward extinction. On Santa Rosa Island, the population dropped from over 1,700 to 15 individual animals. Why did this happen? Why was the island fox vital to the entire island ecosystem? How was near-tragedy transformed into the most successful recovery of an endangered species in North American history? Come discover the unique ecosystems of the California Channel Islands with Keri and Mike as they reveal new findings from the world of the Channel Island Fox and how a community working together can save a species.

About the Speakers: Keri Dearborn has and MA in Environmental Education and has been Friends of the Island Fox Education Director since 2005. She is an avid birder and a non-fiction author and poet. Mike Watling works in the biomedical industry and is a member of the Friends of the Island Fox Advisory Committee. As a member of Channel Islands National Park’s Naturalist Corps, he is FIF’s resident wanderer. He tracks island foxes several weekends a month.

About Friends of the Island Fox: Friends of the Island Fox, a program of Channel Islands Restoration, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization which supports efforts to preserve and protect the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) on the California Channel Islands through conservation and education programs.

About Channel Islands Maritime Museum: Located in Oxnard’s Channel Islands Harbor at 3900 Bluefin Circle, the Museum’s galleries feature rare and beautiful maritime paintings dating back to the 1600’s, more than sixty world-class models of historic ships, rotating thematic fine arts exhibitions, and interactive exhibits that encourage visitors to expand their horizons about everything maritime. The Museum is temporarily closed due to State of California restirctions relating to COVID-19.

Editor’s Note: this story was published on Feb. 5, 2021.

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