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Posted by Brad on November 26, 2001 at 16:31:56:

In Reply to: Re: Seahunt-tell me about Santa Barbara Island(-) posted by seahunt on November 26, 2001 at 15:31:15:

Over the last 10 years i have spent nearly 50 nights anchored around the island in my skiff and i can tell you that island has undergone some major changes. There used to be a plush kelpbed that extended for 1/2 of a mile off the S/E end of the island and it all but gone now. In the 80's the entire backside of the island was one huge kelp forest that extended for a 1/2 mile off the island. The Sutil gap used to be impassable, now there are only a few scattered strands of kelp.

The shallows have been inundated by small purple urchins. I have no scientific data to support my speculation, but i attribute the decline of the island to aggressive over-fishing by commercial live rockfish fishermen. The urchins have virtually no natural predators so their population simply went out of controll.

At the landing, you will find many playful sea lions that have grown very accustomed to divers. They are eager to engage you there and it is a great place to get photographs of them.

(seahunt) The arch does not go all of the way through. It is an interesting place to explore though. There is a stark line where the sun doesn't shine and it perfectly defines the plant growth on the walls and floor. I only swam at the island once this summer because of the barren state of the shallows. (very dissappointing) It may be different for scuba divers. I swung by there on the way home from Nic a few weeks ago and the kelp hasn't grown back to any noticable degree.

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