Año Nuevo Island Reserve

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Regional map The Año Nuevo Island Reserve is located about 1.5 hours south of San Francisco ...
Detailed map on State Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay.
Aerial view of island and point Año Nuevo Island and its adjoining point represent the worlds largest mainland elephant seal rookery. The Island and associated point are a state wildlife reserve and its surrounding waters are federally protected by the jurisdiction of the Monterey Bay and Gulf of the Farallons National Marine Sanctuary. The island is off limits to the public because of its sensitivity.
Close-up aerial view In 1906 the United States Coast Guard established a lighthouse and station in hopes of remedying the numerous shipwrecks that became peculiar to the area. During the Second World War the island was modestly fortified and was used as a naval observations post. Some years after the war a new lighthouse was established at Pigeon Point and the facility on Año Nuevo Island was abandoned as too costly to maintain. There had been nearly a dozen fatalities in and around the island's channel through the course of the facilities 50 or so years of operations.


In the early 1970's UCSC Professor Burney Le Boeuf established a research station among the ruins of the old Coast Guard facility. Long known as an area frequented by large sharks, the white shark research project began in earnest during the fall of 1992.
Zodiac inflatable In order to put researchers on the island, an inflatable UCSC Zodiac w/ a 15 horse outboard is used. Researchers must don wet suits and crash helmets for the often-perilous surf landing across the mile wide channel between the point and the island.
In the foreground, a sub adult bull carries the scars of an encounter with a white shark. While bull elephant seals are extremely tough and do not go quietly when attacked, even alpha bulls are a potential target for the worlds largest known predatory shark, the white shark, C. carcharias. (T-Rex). Part of the island based shark researcher's daily routine is to survey all the island's beaches and haul outs for evidence of shark bites on pinnipeds.
Pat Morris on walkway Researchers and park staff restrict their movements to narrow walking paths that criss-cross the island as to avoid the most sensitive areas of bird nesting areas such as auklet burrows.There are numerous observation blinds and sneak paths for monitoring the island's beaches and seal haul-outs. UCSC field biologist Patricia Morris conducts a seasonal census of elephant seals on Beach 17, on the islands eastern landward shore. The bull elephant seal challenging Pat to a duel weighs over two tons.
Patrick with seals Patrick and friends - Elephant seals on Weaners Beach. Elephant seals are the only mammals on the island which do not run in fear from humans. Harbor seals are the most easily frightened, followed by California sea lions and the Stellar sea lions.
Lighthouse keeper's mansion The old lighthouse keepers mansion, with remains of the lighthouse tower in foreground.
Lighthouse keeper's mansion The old lighthouse keepers mansion, which has since been taken over by Brant's cormorants and Pelagic cormorants. Note the Pelagic cormorants above the windows.
Foghorn Building This is the building that the researchers sleep in. It was once used to create the steam for the fog horn. Also, observations of seals are done from here.
Where's Waldo ? How many seals can you count ?
California sea lion California sea lion
Observation blind The observation blind where Patrick spends most of his time.
Seal with neck injury Elephant seal that used to have a fishing net around its neck. Pat Morris was able to take it off in time.
Branded California sea lions Branded California sea lions. Patrick spent almost all day looking for these guys!
Western gull A Western gull with chick. Note the chick's separated beak. This is due to toxins delivered to the chick from the parent, most likely as a result of the parent feeding on toxic things in a dump.


Here is a 360 degree panorama (202KB) on the island.

Here is a real-time audio feed from the island (activated 9am-5pm PST). If you have a fast enough (225 kbps) internet connection, you can see video as well.

Patrick's email