Santa Rosa Island-Geology and Culture

I visited Santa Rosa Island for the first time as a student as CSU Channel Islands in mid-September. During this trip, four other students and I hiked the six miles to Skunk Point, where we found soft, white beaches juxtaposed against rocky, inter-tidal areas. For the purposes of better understanding the land’s history, we discussed how the coastline provided abundant resources for the Chumash in the forms of food, resting areas, and recreation. Although erosion and other impacts changed the land since the times the Chumash utilized the resources, we could still appreciate the abundance available.

SRI Tidal Pools-Image: CSUCI Student

The pools were located inland of the beach, and the beachfront was naturally armored with rocky tidal zones. These tidal zones supported the two tidal pools by providing a buffer zone from incoming waves. At the mouth of the pool were stalks of seaweed, which functioned as another buffer area from incoming water. Waves did not poor into these pools; instead the wave energy moved through them and the water level rose and fell as if they were breathing.

We inspected these tidal pools closely for signs of life. Sea anemone, muscles, and green algae bordered the rocky sides of the tide pools, while seaweed and seagrass covered the floors. Crabs clamored in and out of the dips and cracks in the rocks, disrupted by some other crabs or by the rising water. We discussed how the geology of these tidal pools may support easier fishing-access. Although no fish were present, strategically it would be easier to catch in these tidal pools than in open waters. The rocky sides of the pool protected the water within from crashing waves. Typically the waves disrupt the sediment and vision of the ocean floor , however within the pools the water eased and flowed smoothly. The pools remained clear and suffered little disruption from the incoming water, which maintains vision of the bottom and sides of the tidal pools. As someone fishing or gathering materials such as the seaweed, this would be advantageous as the waves do not cause as much visual disruptions and thus more time to observe the surroundings and more time to act.

SRI Tidal Pools-Image: CSUCI Student

The depths also may have supported recreational swimming. These pools seemed to be about seven or eight feet deep, which were much deeper than the other smaller pools we saw. Although chilly winds typically harness the island, we discussed how the pools created a calmer place to swim than the ocean and thus would be a great place to enjoy on the few warm and sunny days.  We imagined after a long day of fishing, gathering, and hiking the pools, created by a mixture of geological and biological forces, would be an amazing place to relax and enjoy the day.

6 thoughts on “Santa Rosa Island-Geology and Culture

  1. Humphreys says:

    Skunk Point looks awesome, I hope to someday make it out there to see the surrounding area. I like how you went into detail about the tide pools! Well done.

    • Chapman says:

      Skunk point was really amazing! I have visited the island on a boat but to be on the island was a different experience altogether; I hope you are able to make it out there! Although the length of the hike seemed daunting in the beginning, there is so much to see and explore on the way that the twelve miles flew by. I definitely want to see the rest of the island!

  2. Forrest says:

    This was a great hike and one of my favorites. Reaching Skunk Point and then relaxing at the coast is a unique experience that not many people have the opportunity to appreciate.

    • Chapman says:

      The company on the hike definitely made the trip! I really enjoyed learning about the area through your personal experience and just relaxing for lunch as well. This was the first time that I’ve seen a beach not bombarded by groups of people. It was very special to be able to enjoy the scenery and good weather in the absence of other visitors.

  3. Ferrer says:

    Awesome post! I enjoyed the geology sense that you used and i learned a lot just from this one post. Seems like you really went on a adventure when you visited this beach

    • Chapman says:

      Thanks for the response! Yes it was definitely an insightful adventure. Despite the length of the hike the time flew by in good company. I definitely recommend making the trek out to Skunk Point if you haven’t!

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