Santa Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island

Catalina Island is 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. Avalon is 14 miles from Two Harbors. You can snorkel, scuba dive, kayak, mountain bike, boating, or relax on the beach.  At Two Harbors there is a cave called Isthmus.  Other than amazing caves, there are two huge mountains.  Mt. Orizaba is 2097 feet, and is the island's highest point.  Mt. Blackjack is the second highest point, and is a silver mine site.  Another cove is Avalon.  There you can do many things, shopping, diving, and laying on the beach.  Avalon's middle beach has a Casino building, Pleasure Pier, Yacht Club, and the Tuna Club.  The last important place we will be discussing is the Wrigley Botanical Gardens.  It features cactus from around the world, as well as many endemic and native plants.  Catalina is a place where wonders can happen.

Brandi and Alicia

In 1919, Mr. William Wrigley Jr. bought Catalina Island. The Wrigley family is also the same family that owns the chewing gum empire. Mr. Wrigley bought this island to develop it. When he actually saw the island, after he bought it, he decided to keep it as natural as he could. He wanted to protect it. He only allowed few plants and animals to be brought from the mainland to Catalina Island. On the island, there is a place called the Wrigley Marine Science Center. It is a place where students learn about the island itself. The Wrigley Marine Science Center teaches about diving, marine mammals/ animals, Catalina's geography, diving accident management, and a few other classes. The center also contains a hyper  baric chamber. It is an emergency facility for the treatment of scuba diving accidents. This place is full of interesting facts to learn!


Santa Catalina Island has an interesting history. Seismic forces that lifted it up from the land under the ocean formed Catalina. There are different levels of rock all over Catalina. The metamorphic rock is the oldest type of rock found on Catalina. This rock dates to over 150 million years ago. Next is the volcanic igneous rock. The youngest out of all the rocks is the sandstone. The water that surrounds Catalina rises up to one-half inch per year. As time passed Native Americans discovered Catalina over 7,000 years ago. The most common rock used by the Native Americans is soapstone. They used it for pots, bowls, tools, etc. The reason they used soapstone is because when the put it over a fire it would not break. In 1849 the Spanish settlers that came to Catalina claimed they found gold on Catalina. The Spanish settlers that came the Catalina started to create ranches on Catalina Island. In 1863 Prospectors appeared on Catalina and they found gold and silver. Sheep, cattle, and a few herders inhabited Santa Catalina Island in the 1880ís. Santa Catalina today is mainly a vacation destination.

Andrew and Tim

The Wrigley Marine Science Center

The Wrigley family is known for itís concern for the environment and itís strong commitment to conservation.This is especially true on Santa Catalina Island. In 1965 the Philip K. Wrigley Marine Science Center (WMSC) was established by grants from the Wrigley and Offield families.The grant was given to the University of Southern California that included 14 acres of land.USC was selected because of itís own long history of involvement in environmental issues that date as far back as 1910.In 1995, William and Julie Wrigley continued their family legacy in conservation by contributing funds to USC to initiate the Wrigley Institute.In recent years USC has matched the funds contributed by the Wrigleyís and are working to raise $60 million for the Institute. The Wrigley center is considered a premier research lab and the WMSC is the centerpiece of the Wrigley Institute. Kids from schools are able to visit the Wrigley Center by completing a passport. A passport has twelve questions on various subjects. Once the passport is completed and camp internet is informed and it has been approved, you may get a grant to visit the Wrigley Center free of charge.


The USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, which manages a marine lab right on, the shore of Big Fisherman Cove near Two Harbors at the Isthmus. Right up the hill is the main Wrigley Laboratory, a three -story building complete with science and computer labs, a nice lecture hall room and gift store.We learned about the grasses and plants on the island that are much like the rest of California. They were brought over by European settlers. Before the European's arrived, California was covered with bunch grasses. The bunch grasses were perennials they did not die out each year.Catalina was not formed in the same manner the northern Channel Islands were.Catalina is the result of a collision of three tectonic plates of earth. The Pacific Plate moving from the ocean towards the mainland and the North American plate moving from the mainland towards the sea has a collision millions of years ago with a smaller plate, the Farralone Plate which slipped under the North American Plate for thousand of years, and went through a metamorphosis to become a densely compacted schist. Then as the two upper plates collided and slid along each other stretching and pulling the earth's crust, a rupture occurred and the schist from the lower Farralone Plate erupted up with volcanic rock and ash to become Catalina Island. On Big Fisherman Cove you can see the white rock that was from the ash that first blew out of the rupture, and you can see the red and black air pocket filled lava rock that followed it. On the other side of the cove is the diatomaceous earth, white and chalky, that has been lifted up more recently from the ocean floor, comprised of compacted diatoms from the sea that long ago settled to the sea floor and became rock.Wrigley Institute is monitoring pollution with a sonar device. They recycle their solid waste to return clear water to the sea. Native plants observed in the wild were Catalina Apple -not an apple at all but a medium sized bush with blossoms that resemble apple blossoms, the four O'clock that blooms in the late afternoon, the prickly pear that dots the southern slopes of the Island along with costal scrub like California Sage.USDA Distance Learning Program which also brought them their first Internet computer andconnectivity on campus. The camp also provides a community technology mentor in the classroom twice a week, and has installed mirror equipment in the small rural library homework center for student use after school.The Wrigley center was very interesting and I learned numerous things about Catalina and how it developed. I enjoyed the eel's, touch tank, and the hyper baric chamber. It was a great experience.


Geology of Catalina

Catalina was not formed like the other Channel Islands. Catalina is the result of a collision between two plates. The Northern Plate was moving from Mainland towards the sea. The Pacific Plate was moving from the sea towards Mainland. As a result the two plates collided. This happened millions of years ago. The North American Plate had another collision with a smaller plate. The plate Farralone slipped under the North American plate for thousands of years. When this happened the plate became metamorphosis rock. Then as the two upper plates collided, and slid along each other, stretching and pulling the earthís crust (just as it does at the San Andreas Fault), a rupture occurred and the schist from the lower Farralone Plate erupted up with volcanic rock and ash to become Catalina Island.


One of the most amazing geologic features of Catalina is the deposit of steatite, or soapstone, which was a very important prehistoric trade item. Catalina has areas of volcanic igneous rock formation. The metamorphic rock is the oldest of all the rocks on Catalina, which dates back to over 150 million years ago. The highest mountains on Catalina are Mount Orizaba, which is 2,069 feet high, and Mount Black Jack, which is 2,006 feet high. Overall the landmass is 75 square miles, and that makes it the third largest of the California Channel Islands.

Chip, Dan, And Michael


The latitude is 33 degrees and 22í N and the longitude is 118 degrees and 20í W. Catalina is an island about 27 miles south of San Pedro. The island is a part of a channel island chain, which is located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

Chip, Dan, And Michael


On the way to the Wrigley Center Ms. Ellen gave each of us a card. On the card was a name of the plant and a picture of it. We had to find this plant on the hike somewhere and when we found it we gave the card to Mrs. Ellen. Then she told us about it where it lives and if it was edible or not. Some of the plants we learned about were Foxtail Cheat, African Saltbush, Indian paintbrush, Lemonade berry and much more. My favorite of these were the Lemonade Berry and the African Saltbush. The Lemonade Berry had berries that made a lemonade tasting juice if you soaked the berries in water. I liked the African Saltbush because it attracted native ladybugs. They were different from the ladybugs we know by there spots. These ladybugs have no spots at all. Another thing we got to do that was a lot of fun was get to try the plants that were edible. Some of the plants we got to try include Mustard flowers, Mustard seeds, and parts of the Wild Oat. It was a fun learning experience for all of us.


Catalina's Endemic Plants


In Catalina we saw many animals. Some were native to Catalina and others were from the mainland. A very rare thing that we saw was the Catalina ladybug. They had no spots on them. We also saw many fish at the science center. These included kelp bass, sea bass, and garibaldi. On the boat ride to Catalina we saw a seal. We saw plankton in the water through a demonstration of bioluminescence. Mr. Kraemer jumped into the water late at night and disturbed the plankton. When he moved around in the water the plankton made small sparks of greenish-blue. There was also a demonstration of the eels that lived in the area. Ms. Lorraine fed the eels in the water of held out in the air and the eels would come out to eat them. It was interesting to see the eels up close. At the Wrigley Marine Science Center there were touch tanks. We got to feel and hold the many animals in the touch tanks. These animals included sea cucumbers, sea stars, sea anemones, sea urchins, sea stars, and sea hares.

Catalina Express

We boarded the Catalina Express at approximately 12:15p.m. We boarded it in San Pedro. The boat was big. Inside there were some seats that had a foldable table. The table was so you can eat or place things on like a camera. There were some steps that took you up into the front of the boat. In the front of the boat, there were two doors that lead you outside so you could take pictures or just to enjoy the ride. At the back of the boat there were two restrooms and two other doors that lead you to more stairs that went up to the upper deck. It is also a great picture taking area. The air you receive up there isnít as intense as the air in the front. The climate was perfect! There was pleasant breeze, it was sunny, warm, and there were clear skies. The temperature was from about 75F to about 80F. When we were approaching the island we could see the hills, like shadows. We finally made it to Two Harbors. It was a trip of about 1 hour and 30 minutes. On the way back we got a similar ship but the outside was different. We went to Avalon to drop off some passengers and then we headed for home. This ride was about 2 hours long. We got to San Pedro around 4:10p.m.


Victoria Elementary School

Riverside, CA