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Anacapa Island
Xantus' Murrelet populations and Anacapa Deer Mice now thrive on Anacapa

Anacapa Island (really three islands East, Middle, and West Anacapa) is located 14 miles off the coast of Ventura, California. It is part of the Channel Islands archipelago and the Channel Islands National Park. It is the smallest of the northern islands.

Waves have eroded the volcanic island, creating steep, towering sea cliffs, sea caves (130 sea caves), and natural bridges. The habitat on Anacapa Island closely resembles that of the southern California with muted shrubs and rocky shores surrounded by the dense Pacific ocean. The barren island landscape is accented by the blossoming bright yellow bouquets of the Giant Coreopsis and other plants, such as the Red Paintbrush, Island Morning Glories, and Pale Buckwheat.  

Thousands of birds use Anacapa as a nesting area due to 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, 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 trails. Fluffy chicks hatch in May-June and fly away from the nests in July. The rocky shores of Anacapa are also perfect resting and breeding areas for California Sea Lions and Harbor Seals. The island is also home to an endemic mammal, the Anacapa Deer Mouse.

Island Conservation’s Role:

Beginning in 2001, Island Conservation worked with many conservation groups to determine the impact of the introduced Black Rat (Rattus rattus) on native species of Anacapa Island. Seabird biologists from Humboldt State studying the Xantus' Murrelet population on Anacapa discovered murrelet eggs were being eaten by rats once they were laid. Island Conservation researchers found bird bands outside rat nests and determined the rats were also eating young seabirds.

In 2002 – 2003, the Channel Islands National Park, California Department of Fish & Game, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and Island Conservation removed rats from Anacapa Island with funding from the American Trader Trustee Council. Captive Anacapa Deer Mice were then released back to the island in stages to gradually increase the populations on the island. Results showed Xantus' Murrelet clutches were undisturbed, thus increasing the survivorship of this population. To date, nesting by rare Xantus' Murrelets has increased by 155%. In addition, Cassin’s Auklets, which were previously absent from Anacapa, have started breeding on the island.  

Xantus' Murrrelet (renamed Scripps's Murrelet). Island Conservation helped protect this species by removing their main threat on Anacapa Island. Photo by: Shaye Wolf
Anacapa Island


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