Friday, November 19, 2010

Ano Nuevo Island

I was fortunate enough to visit Ano Nuevo Island at the State Reserve on the southern coast of San Mateo County in central California on Monday, November the 8th, 2010. I was volunteering to restore habitat for Auklets by planting vegetations in the middle part of the island I was allowed to bring my camera and tripod over to take some photos and was so excited I messed up on about half of my shots but some of them did come out quite nice. I am still not absolutely happy about all of them because of the look of the clouds.

I have been fascinated with the island for some time as I always wondered what happened out there and who lived or got to live out there. I grew up surfing Ano Nuevo Cove and would stare at the houses for some time. The structures were built by the Army Core of Engineers for the U.S Lighthouse Service beginning in the 1870s. Two keepers lived out there with their families until the light and fog signal were discontinued in the 1940s. California Sea Lions have lived in the Keepers Quarters since it was abandoned and the Fog Signal Building is used by scientists to observe Northern Elephant Seals, California Sea Lions, Stellar Sea Lions and Northern Fur Seals. Two sea birds also use the island for critical nesting habitat and that was why I was out there. The Rhinoceros and Cassin's Auklets burrow into the earth to lay their eggs. The island is devoid of rodents or other land mammals that would normally prey on their eggs. During the lighthouse era, one of the keepers decided to import rabbits so they could hunt them on the island. These herbivores soon ate all the islands vegetation! I was there to restore the habitat for the birds by planting native grasses and vegetation. Money for the project came from a ship that wrecked off Half Moon Bay in the 1950s and is just now releasing the oil into the Ocean to such an extent as to harm all sorts of wildlife including these sea birds. The can ID the oil directly to this ship and that is why the ships company paid for the restoration. I was not able to walk too far from the zig zag seal fence, but I did keep an eye on the famous left hand wave on the north end of the island that will probably never be surfed again with out the aid of a jet ski and that is illegal. Great White Sharks frequent the island to feed on the pinapeds. The light tower is just a metal structure that was pushed over in the 1970's because it was rusting so bad, scientists thought it would fall onto some wildlife.