Catalina Island, California

Dec 06, 2018 - National Geographic Venture


Located approximately 20 miles off the coast of southern California, Catalina Island boasts stunning hiking, unique wildlife, a rich history, and a 20-year waiting list to own a car. Not to worry: golf carts are allowed on the roads! As National Geographic Venture’s Captain and crew sought the best Zodiac access point, our morning featured a visit from Hillary, ranger with the Catalina Island Conservancy which stewards over 88% of these lands through resource protection, education, and recreation.

Never connected to mainland California in its geologic past, Catalina originally lacked all terrestrial life. Once soils started to form, plants and animals arrived at the island by chance, carried on the wind, drifting across the ocean, or flying. Native American residents, European explorers, and more recent inhabitants have also introduced species from afar. Catalina Island is home to at least 50 endemic species, those that occur naturally in this location yet live nowhere else in the world! Human activities and livestock grazing have, over decades, greatly impacted island vegetation, environments, and fauna. However, the exemplary, diligent efforts of the Conservancy in partnership with the Institute for Wildlife Studies has resulted in successful population recoveries for both the Catalina Island fox and local bald eagles.

This inaugural voyage on National Geographic Venture explored the California coast and experienced the dynamic ocean conditions of regional reputation. We’ve enjoyed discovering stories of history, geology, wines, culture, marine science, and conservation together.

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About the Author

Deb Goodwin

Naturalist

Passionate about creating opportunities for explorers of all ages to engage with wild and under-studied places, Deb embraces the power of immersive experiences to inspire curiosity and conservation. Extended backcountry expeditions as a teen jumpstarted this commitment and continue to motivate her travels. No matter the location, she observes the natural environment with a detective’s mindset, seeking to understand how local history, geology, weather, and ecological processes together shape the coastal land- and seascape. 

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