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The Carrillo Mural is an homage to the California Channel Islands and its wildlife. Located off the central coast, many of the UCSB residence halls are named after the local islands. With an award-winning Marine Science program and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) office right on campus, it is fitting to have an educational mural about some of the wildlife that live on and around this magical resource. The mural is located in the laundry room on the north side of the Carrillo Dining Commons across the parking lot from San Rafael. It was compiled and illustrated by Eric Zobel.
See a virtual tour of the mural.
Below are the introductory paragraphs from the mural...
THE CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK & MARINE SANCTUARY
JUST OFF THE COAST OF UCSB lie eight remarkable islands. Located at the merger of two major ocean currents and isolated for thousands of years, these unique landforms are home to some of the most diverse wildlife populations and rich ecosystems in the world. Over 2,000 plant and animal species have been identified – 145 of which are not found anywhere else on Earth. Cultural resources date back 13,000 or more years. The National Park Service administers five of the islands, including all land surfaces, wildlife, and marine areas out to one nautical mile. This is The Channel Islands National Park. In 1980, the same year the Park was created, a larger ocean region (extending six nautical miles from island shores) was also protected and placed under management by the NOAA. This is The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Both areas offer untold adventure opportunities and are easily accessible from the California coast.
WILDLIFE OF THE CHANNEL ISLANDS
WILD, WINDSWEPT AND LARGELY UNTOUCHED by human inhabitation, the Channel Islands are home to an incredible diversity of wildlife. From the slow moving Slender Salamander to the Giant Black Sea Bass, any trip to the islands offers a myriad of wildlife encounters. Coastal waters teem with all manner of sea life made even more spectacular by the brilliant clear water. Point Bennett, on the outer edge of San Miguel Island, hosts one of the largest seal and sea lion rookeries in the world and nearly everywhere are found the brilliantly bright orange Garibaldi, California’s state fish. It’s a rarity not to see numerous whales and dolphins on boat rides from the local harbors. Seen on these walls are but a few of the many species that call the Channel Islands home.
|Oarfish||In October 2013 a giant snake-like creature washed up on Catalina Island. Approximately 18 feet long and weighing close to 400 pounds it so resembled a 'sea serpent' of sailor legend that elementary kids visiting on a school trip were not told about the discovery for fear they wouldn't go in the water. The Oarfish, named for its oar-like shape, is a resident of extremely deep water (1,000-3,000 feet) and rarely seen. The largest specimen ever recorded was measured at 36 feet with unconfirmed reports up to fifty. Because of their elusive nature very little is known about this unusual fish. Ichthyologists at the UCSB Marine Sciences Laboratory were contacted after the Catalina discovery and asked to help preserve the skeleton and further study this magnificent animal.|
|Humpback Whale||Humpback Whales are found throughout the Santa Barbara Channel feeding on tiny shrimp-like krill, plankton, and small fish. They migrate annually from summer feeding grounds near the poles to warmer winter breeding waters in Mexico and other locations closer to the Equator. Mothers and their calves hug the coastline heading north again and can often be seen just off campus and coal oil points. Humpbacks are powerful swimmers, and use their massive tail fin (or fluke) to propel themselves through the water and sometimes completely out of it in a behavior known as breaching. Scientists aren't sure if this breaching behavior serves some purpose, such as cleaning barnacles from the whale's skin, or whether they simply do it for fun.||national geographic|
|Common Dolphin||There is nothing quite like encountering a group of Common Dolphins on boat trips to and from the islands. These marvelous creatures travel in ‘pods’ of hundreds to thousands of animals and will change course just to play in the bow wakes of fast moving boats and larger whales. They are an extremely social species and will tend to sick or injured members of their group. Touch and echolocation are essential behaviors in social interactions. Unfortunately, large numbers of Common Dolphins are killed as ‘bycatch’ in commercial fishing operations and they are especially susceptible to water pollutants. All the more reason to keep our oceans clean. Once a single species, they are now thought to be made up of long and short-beaked subgroups.|
|Great White Shark||Great White Sharks have been known to live up to 30 years, reach 20+ feet, weigh over 5,000 pounds, and can swim almost 15 miles/hour. Some have been found with over 300 sharp serrated teeth. Great Whites have an exceptional sense of smell and are known to have a sixth sense (known as the ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’) that allows them to detect the electromagnetic fields of other moving creatures. They are the largest predatory fish in the sea but despite their fierce reputation they do not appear to target humans.|
|Shovelnose Guitarfish||The Shovelnose Guitarfish is built for life in sand because of its flat shape and sandy-colored body. They will bury themselves up to their eyes waiting patiently for prey to venture near. They breathe by pumping water through holes (spiracles) on top of their heads, over their gills, and out through small slit-like openings. They also have specialized receptors which aid in sensing movement. The Guitarfish is an extremely old species (100 million years) and was first categorized in the shark family because of its dorsal fin shape and swimming movements but they actually fall in the ray family.||
|Spot Prawn||One of Southern California more popular seafood dishes, Spot Prawns aren’t really prawns at all…they are shrimp...and they begin the first few years of their life all as males. They are one of the largest ‘prawns’ on the West Coast (10.5 inches) and one of the deepest residing (1600+ feet). In the evening they perform a vertical migration to shallower waters to find prey, returning to deeper water at sunrise to hide from predators. On the surface these little guys are orange-red, but deep on the ocean floor where the red component of the light spectrum has been filtered out...they appear black. This makes them almost invisible to most marine life who cannot “see” red.|
|Swordfish||Swordfish are one of the fastest fish in the sea reaching speeds of up to 40 miles/hour. Their long bill/sword is not used to spear fish, but rather to slash and kill prey such as tuna, barracuda, and herring. Their hunting skills are further enhanced by special organs located in their heads that heat their eyes greatly increasing visual accuracy. They have few enemies other than a few sharks and whales, but are often killed for sport and caught as bycatch in commercial fishing operations. As a result, Greenpeace added them to its Red List in 2010 and many restaurants have agreed not to serve this unique fish in order to protect their ocean populations.|
|Sea Otter||Sea Otters are an aquatic member of the weasel family. They spend most of their lives in water and use kelp and seaweed to anchor themselves while sleeping or resting. Their diet consists primarily of clams and mussels, which are eaten while floating on their backs using tools such as rocks or coral to break open hard shells. Sea Otters are known to have some of the densest fur in the animal kingdom and for that reason were hunted almost to extinction by the early 1900’s. In an effort to save the species the US Fish & Wildlife Service set up two experimental otter populations around San Nicolas Island in 1987. Unfortunately, local fisherman, the oil industries, and the Navy saw this as a threat and were able to convince Congress to establish a ‘no otter zone’ from Point Conception to the Mexican border. For 25 years, otters were ‘translocated’ to Monterey and points north. The project was a complete failure and was finally overturned in court in 2015. Otters are just now returning to southern waters in significant numbers.|
|Garibaldi||The colorfully bright orange Garibaldi is the state fish of California and take their name from Giuseppe Garibaldi, an 1800’s Italian military and political figure whose verdant followers wore red shirts. Their eating of sponges may contribute to their orange coloring. They can be very aggressive when defending their territories and have been known to charge divers who swim too close. Garibaldis can be found as far north in the Pacific as Monterey but are more common in the warmer waters around the Channel Islands and Southern California. Santa Catalina harbor in Avalon is a great place to see them.|
|Giant Black Sea Bass||The Giant Black Sea Bass is truly that -- GIANT! They’ve been known to reach 8 feet and up to 500 pounds. Once abundant along the California coast they were nearly fished to extinction and are now protected under a ban enacted in 1982. These gentle giants have the unique ability to change their spot colors to blend into their surroundings and eat all manner of prey from small sharks to crabs, lobsters, and a variety of fish. They are considered one of the biggest fish species in the Channel Islands.|
|Western Grebe||One of the more elegant water birds, Western Grebes are noted for their bright red eyes and black and white plumage. They display a well-known courtship behavior called ‘rushing’ where two mating birds will race side by side across the water’s surface with their necks curved gracefully forward and together. They spend most of their lives on water and tend to be very awkward on land because their feet are placed so far back on their bodies. Mothers will carry their babies on their backs who crawl there minutes after hatching.|
|Swell Shark||Swell Sharks are most commonly found near shore in shallow water but have been noted in waters as deep as 1,500 feet. If threatened they will grab their tail in their mouth and form a ring with their body for protection. They can also expand themselves to almost twice their body size by sucking in water. Like most sharks, they do not have bones but instead their ‘skeleton’ is made entirely of cartilage. Females lay rubbery egg cases called ‘mermaid purses’ that attach to rocks and seaweed and can often be found along island beaches.|
|Island Jay||Island Scrub Jays are much larger and darker blue than their closest relative, the Western Scrub Jay. They are found only on Santa Cruz Island making them the only island endemic bird species in all of North America. They can live up to 20 years and are known to mate for life. Island Jays typically eat acorns from the California Oaks found around the island which they bury and cache in the fall and consume months later. They are extremely susceptible to West Nile Virus and visitors to the island are asked to clean their shoes before disembarking.|
|Dungeness Crab||Dungeness Crabs are considered to be the symbol for the astrological Sign of Cancer. They are named for the Port of Dungeness in the state of Washington where they make up a significant portion of the seafood economy. They are also the state crustacean of Oregon. Their colorful outer skeleton helps them blend into their surroundings and they will also bury themselves with claws up upside down in the sand.|
|Channel Islands Fox||Foxes of the Channel Islands descend from the gray fox and are are believed to have "rafted" to the northern islands 10,000+ years ago. They are a third smaller than their mainland relatives but still the largest native terrestrial mammal on the Islands. They can live up to 15 years but have no immunity to parasites and diseases brought in from the mainland. As Bald Eagle populations plummeted in the 1960’s due to DDT poisoning, Golden Eagles moved in and almost completely eradicated the slow moving and docile foxes (Bald Eagles are fish eaters). In1999, a recovery program for both the Fox and Bald Eagle was undertaken and has become a hallmark of successful animal reintroduction. Now these little guys are everywhere greeting island visitors and raiding backpacks and campsites without shame.|
|Spotted Skunk||Spotted Skunks are native to only the two largest Channel Islands, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa. They were once rare and endangered but have developed healthy local island populations (3,000 were counted on Santa Rosa in 2011). They are more carnivorous than their only competitor, the Island Fox, and primarily eat deer mice, insects, and the occasional lizard. Like most skunks, they will spray if threatened, but this particular species will take a handstand position if their first warning of loudly stamping feet is not heeded. They are nocturnal and spend their days in dens found beneath shrubs, in open grassland, and in the roots and trunks of trees.||national park service|
|California Sea Lion||Sea Lions differ from seals in that they have a recognizable earflap. They also have more defined ‘feet’ which makes them better suited to movement on land. Because they do not sweat, they are dependent on heat from sun-warmed rocks for warmth when they‘re cold, or moving to deeper water when they’re hot. They use echolocation for orientation, navigation, and food finding and will sometimes work with other species like dolphins and seabirds to herd fish as a group. They are highly intelligent and easily trainable.||animal diversity web|
|American White Pelican||The AWP is considered a transitory guest among the Channel Islands. They are often seen along the coasts feeding or resting among groups of other pelicans. They are one of the largest birds in North America and noted for their extremely graceful flight using uplift to skim along wave surfaces searching for food. They tend not to be divers like the Brown Pelican but dip their heads underwater to scoop fish and other prey items. They are known to work in groups herding fish into bays and channels for easier feeding.||arkive|
|Brown Pelican||In the Channel Islands, Brown Pelicans breed only on West Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands. They nearly disappeared in the 1960's because of pesticide use but have returned to healthy numbers. They are the smallest of the pelicans and the only plunge-diving breed dropping from up to 100 feet above water. After catching fish, they typically have to drain 2-3 gallons of water from their throat pouches. Males and females share nesting duties and they incubate their eggs with the skin of their feet, sometimes standing on the eggs for warmth.|
|Elephant Seal||Elephant Seals take their name from their inflatable ‘trunk’ like snouts. They can dive to 5,000 feet and stay submerged for up to two hours. Males are known for their often violent and bloody battles protecting their harems which can number up to 50 females. They migrate for food and often spend months at sea. They are found all along the western coast of the United States. Thousands of these monstrous creatures journey to Point Bennett on the outer edge of San Miguel Island to rest and breed.||national geographic|
|Peregrine Falcon||Peregrines are one of the most widely traveled birds in the world and their name literally means ‘one from abroad’. They are also one of the fastest, with their characteristic ‘stoops’ (high speed dives) often exceeding 200 mph. Interactions with humans go back thousands of years as they are highly trainable and have been used for hunting and sport throughout history. They perch in high places and are commonly seen along the steep cliffs and rocky terrain of the Channel Islands. Like many raptors, population numbers dwindled to dangerous levels because of pesticide poisoning but they have recovered and are now common throughout the islands.|
|Harbor Seal||Harbor Seals tend to be solitary creatures and spend more time in the water than on land. They occasionally come on shore (known as ‘hauling out’) to rest, eat, nurse or have young but usually only in protected areas for short periods. They are better swimmers than sea lions because of their unique flipper structure and tend to be much quieter. Seals have strong molars allowing them to crush shells and crustaceans, but do not chew their food, instead tearing it in chunks or swallowing it whole. Females can live up to 10 years longer than males.|
|Laysan Albatross||These Albatrosses are named after one of their breeding colonies on Laysan Island in the Hawaiian Islands. Although they are considered an accidental species in the Channel Islands, they are frequently spotted off island coastlines by their distinctively large wings. Albatrosses spend significant amounts of their lives at sea and are noted as one of the oldest living species of birds in the world. Wisdom, a wild Laysan, was estimated to be 64 years old and may have hatched as many as 40 chicks in her lifetime.|
|Caspian Tern||The Caspian is the largest tern in the world and most easily identified by its coral red bill. On a windy beach they often resemble ‘rock stars’ with their Mohawk-spiked feathers standing straight up on their heads. In New Zealand they go by their Maori name, Taranui. Like pelicans, they hover over water surfaces before dropping from great heights to dive for fish. They can also be seen skimming close to the waters surface searching for tiny prey while emitting high-pitched peeping sounds. They are often found on windswept beaches in the Islands huddled together in large groups to keep warm.|