San Clemente Island

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San Clemente Island
Native name:
Kinkipar
San-clemente-island.jpg
Geography
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates32°54′N 118°30′W / 32.900°N 118.500°W / 32.900; -118.500Coordinates: 32°54′N 118°30′W / 32.900°N 118.500°W / 32.900; -118.500
ArchipelagoChannel Islands (California)
Administration
United States
StateCalifornia
CountyLos Angeles
Map of Channel Islands

San Clemente Island (Tongva: Kinkipar)[1] is the southernmost of the Channel Islands of California. It is owned and operated by the United States Navy,[2] and is a part of Los Angeles County. It is administered by Naval Base Coronado. Defined by the United States Census Bureau as Block Group 2 of Census Tract 5991 of Los Angeles County, California, it is 21 miles (34 km) long[3] and contains 147.13 km2 (56.81 sq mi) of land. The island is officially uninhabited as of 2000 U.S. Census. It is estimated, however, that the number of military and civilian personnel present on the island at any given time is at least 300.[4] The city of San Clemente in Orange County, California is named after the island.

Geography[edit]

Topography[edit]

The island has been generally described as being "the upper part of a tilted and gently arched northwestward-trending block of the earth's crust that has a straight, steep northeastern slope and a more irregular and much gentler southwestern slope" that is composed primarily of volcanic rock, with the northeast boundary of the island having a large fault that parallels most of the major faults on the California mainland. San Clemente Island has some of the best examples of marine terraces, and has trench-like canyons, streams, periodic waterfalls, and pools of fresh water.[5]

Climate[edit]

This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperature above 69.5 °F. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, San Clemente Island has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.[6]

Climate data for San Clemente Island, CA
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 65
(18)
64
(18)
65
(18)
68
(20)
69
(21)
71
(22)
74
(23)
75
(24)
75
(24)
73
(23)
68
(20)
65
(18)
69.333
(20.74)
Average low °F (°C) 49
(9)
50
(10)
52
(11)
54
(12)
57
(14)
60
(16)
62
(17)
64
(18)
63
(17)
59
(15)
53
(12)
49
(9)
56
(13)
Source: Weather.com: "Monthly weather". San Clemente Island, CA. 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2016.

Ecology[edit]

Fauna and flora[edit]

The San Clemente Island loggerhead shrike is an endangered species that the Navy is taking steps to protect. The San Clemente Island fox is an indigenous species. Feral goats roamed the island for centuries, reaching a population of 11,000 in 1972, when their effect on indigenous species was realized. By 1980 the population had been reduced to 4,000. A plan for shooting remaining goats was blocked in court by the Fund for Animals, so the goats were removed with nets and helicopters. The San Clemente Island goat is a recognized breed of domestic goat.

The coves around the island are visited by snorkelers attracted by the abundant sea life, including sea lions, spiny lobsters, hydrocoral and kelp forests. The island is also home to the endangered San Clemente Island sage sparrow.[7] After decades with no breeding by raptors, because of DDT contamination and Naval activity[8], there is now at least one breeding pair of bald eagles[9] and more than one pair of peregrine falcons[10]. There is a live camera of the bald eagle nest operated by the Institute for Wildlife Studies and Explore.org.

Island flora includes 300 native taxa and approximately 135 non-native taxa with distribution of at least 47 of the island’s native taxa being restricted to two or more of the California Islands, 15 plant taxa being only found on San Clemente Island, and one insular endemic of the island thought to be extinct.[11] The flora of the island includes some plant species found nowhere else in the world. These endemic species include the wildflowers San Clemente Island brodiaea, San Clemente Island triteleia, San Clemente Island woodland star, and San Clemente Island Indian paintbrush, and the shrubs San Clemente Island bushmallow and Blair's wirelettuce. A unique subspecies of toyon, ssp. macrocarpa, also grows here,[12] as do two rare subspecies of the royal larkspur.[13]

Earthworms appear to have been introduced in 2008 in soil from the mainland used in a road construction project. In this earthworm-free region, the worms alter the soil and microbial communities which allows non-native plants to alter the island’s unique ecosystem and threaten biodiversity that exists there.[14]

History[edit]

Illustration by C. F. Holder of Native American bone flutes found on San Clemente Island

Archaeologists have found traces of human occupation on San Clemente Island dating back 10,000 years.

Later inhabitants left trade materials from the northern islands and from the mainland, including Coso obsidian from the California desert. It has not been established what tribe the recent inhabitants belonged to, although the Tongva, who are well attested from Santa Catalina Island, are the most likely candidates. The Chumash, who occupied the northern Channel Islands, may have influenced the inhabitants. Evidence of battles: 'the skeletons of dozens of men piled, one upon another' were also noted on San Clemente and San Nicolas.[15]

The first European to sight the island was Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542, who named it Victoria.[16] It was renamed by Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno, who spotted it on November 23, 1602, Saint Clement's feast day. It was used by ranchers, fishermen, and smugglers during the 19th century and into the 20th century.

In 1835, the whaleship Elbe of Poughkeepsie, New York, under Captain Josiah B. Whippey (or Whipple), hunted sperm whales as far north as "St. Clements Island" (San Clemente Island).[17] The American steamship Lansing, as well as the steam-schooner California, both anchored in Pyramid Cove, on the south side of San Clemente Island, to process blue, fin and humpback whales caught by their "killer boats" (steam-driven whale catchers)—the former between 1926[18] and 1930,[19] and the latter between 1933[20] and 1937.[21] In 1935, the Norwegian factory ship Esperanza caught blue whales as far north as San Clemente Island.[22]

View from space of Southern California coast, showing Santa Catalina Island (closer to mainland) and San Clemente Island (farther from mainland).

Navy base[edit]

The US Navy acquired the island in 1934. It is the Navy's only remaining ship-to-shore live firing range, and is the center of the integrated air/land/sea San Clemente Island Range Complex covering 2,620 nm2 (8,990 km2).

During World War II, the island was used as a training ground for amphibious landing craft. These small to mid-sized ships were crucial to the island hopping that would be required to attack the islands occupied by the Japanese.

It is an active sonar base and has a $21 million simulated embassy for commando training.

There is a US Navy rocket-test facility on San Clemente. Some Polaris-program test rockets were launched from San Clemente between 1957 and 1960. The SEALAB III project took place off San Clemente in February 1969.

The US Navy uses the island as an auxiliary naval airfield, Naval Auxiliary Landing Field San Clemente Island. The main runway 24/06 is used for carrier training by the Navy. Other branches also use this airfield, including the United States Coast Guard.

As of the year 2014, San Clemente is home to an auxiliary Air Force base responsible for locating Air Force fighter pilots near the California coast.

The airfield is home to the United States Navy SEALs training facilities located north of the runways.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

The island is owned and operated by the United States Navy,[23] and is a part of Los Angeles County. It is administered by Naval Base Coronado. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) operates the Avalon Station in Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, serving San Clemente Island.[24]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tongva Place Names".
  2. ^ http://www.scisland.org/
  3. ^ "About SCI". SCIsland.org. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  4. ^ Block Group 2, Census Tract 5991, Los Angeles County
  5. ^ Olmsted, F. H. "Contributions to General Geology - Geologic Reconnaissance of San Clemente Island California (Geological Survey Bulletin 1071-B)" (PDF). pubs.usgs.gov. U.S. Dept. of the Interior (U.S. Geological Survey) published by U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  6. ^ Climate Summary for San Clemente Island
  7. ^ San Clemente Island Sage Sparrow
  8. ^ "San Clemente Island Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan" (PDF). tierradata.com. Tierra Data Systems, Escondido, CA. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)". www.iws.org. Institute for Wildlife Studies. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum)". iws.org. Institute for Wildlife Studies. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Conservation & Research - Channel Islands - San Clemente Island". sbbg.org. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  12. ^ C. Michael Hogan, (2008) Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), GlobalTwitcher, ed. N. Stromberg "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-07-19. Retrieved 2009-07-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Center for Plant Conservation: Delphinium variegatum ssp. thornei
  14. ^ Sahagun, Louis (October 7, 2016). "The lowly earthworm poses a dire threat to this California island". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  15. ^ Holder, Fredrick (1910). The Channel islands of California: a book for the angler, sportsman, and tourist. Stationers' Hall London England: A.C McClurg & Co. p. 283.
  16. ^ Kelsey, Harry (1986). Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. San Marino: The Huntington Library.
  17. ^ Webb, Robert (1988). On the Northwest: Commercial Whaling in the Pacific Northwest 1790–1967. University of British Columbia Press. ISBN 0-7748-0292-8.
  18. ^ Pacific Fisherman (Vol. 24, 1926); Science, Vol. 64 (July 2, 1926 issue); Animal Bulletin: New York Zoological Society, Vols. 29-30, 1926; The Federal Reporter, 1988; American Maritime Cases, (Vol. 2, 1931).
  19. ^ Townsend, Charles Haskens. 1930. "Twentieth Century Whaling". Bull. New York Zool. Soc., Vol. 33, No. 1; California Fish and Game, Fisheries (1930); Pacific Fisherman (Vols. 28-29, 1930-31).
  20. ^ Pacific Fisherman (Vol. 31, 1933).
  21. ^ Nial O'Malley Keyes, Blubber Ship (1939); Andrew R. Boone, Killer Ships of the Whaling Fleet (Popular Science, August 1935); Pacific Fisherman (Vol. 35, 1937).
  22. ^ Rice, Dale W. The Blue Whales of the Southeastern North Pacific Ocean (AFSC Quarterly Report, 1992).
  23. ^ http://www.scisland.org/
  24. ^ "Avalon Station". Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Archived from the original on February 17, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2010. Avalon Sheriff's Station provides law enforcement for Santa Catalina Island, San Clemente Island, and the ocean waters between the islands and mainland of Southern California.

External links[edit]