GEOG 149 Class Visits the Channel Islands

Students waiting at the dock to board the ferry

The Geography Department’s California Channel Islands class (GEOG 149, cross listed as ENV 111) visited Santa Cruz Island for a day long field trip on March 4, 2017. Professor Nick Nidzieko and the TA, geography graduate student Frank Wang, led the trip, which included an hour and a half ferry ride from the harbor in Ventura to Prisoner’s Harbor on the island. The weather was calm and clear, with fantastic views of the coastal mountains. The class saw a humpback whale and an incredible amount of common dolphins on the way, and went on a ~5 mile round trip hike to Pelican Bay. The hike wound through Nature Conservancy land on steep hill slopes, oak forest, and bright green meadows from the rain this past winter. The tour guides stopped at several points of interest, explaining the island’s history as a ranch to its present day recovery, pointing out endemic plants and animals, and some of the class saw a channel islands fox along the side of the trail, the dominant predator and yet barely the size of a house cat. The students were very happy about experiencing the trip, with many taking the class because of the word of mouth surrounding the field trip from past years. It was a great success, and thank you to the tour guides from the Nature Conservancy and crew of the Island Packers ferry.

Sailboats in a bay at Santa Cruz Island


Dolphins accompanying the ferry