Santa Catalina Island


Santa Catalina Island at a Glance

County: Los Angeles County
Distance to the nearest Island: 21 miles to the south is San Clemente Island
Distance to the nearest mainland: 19.7 miles
Height: 2070 feet at Mt. Orizaba
Ownership: Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, 86%; City of Avalon
Size: 75 square miles and 47, 884 acres
Public access: Day trips, camping, hotel stays.
This is the only island with a city—Avalon, 1 square mile in size.
Public transportation:
Catalina Express (boats)
Catalina Flyer (catamaran)
Island Express (helicopters)
Native terrestrial mammals:
Santa Catalina Island Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus catalinae)
Santa Catalina Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis catalinae)
Santa Catalina California Ground Squirrel (Spremophilis beecheyi nesioticus)
Santa Catalina Island Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis catalinae)
Santa Catalina Ornate Shrew (Sorex ornatus willetti)
Non-native terrestrial mammals:
House Mouse (Mus musculus)
Black Rat (Rattus rattus)
Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Dog (Canis familiaris) Cat (Felis catus)
Horse (Equus caballus)
American Bison (Bison bison)
Black Buck Antelope (Antelope cervicarpa)
Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
Feral Pig (Sus scrofa)
Native amphibians: 
Bull Frog (Rana catesbeiana)
Pacific Tree Frog (Hyla regilla)
Arboreal Salamander (Aneides lugubris)
Garden Slender Salamander (Batrachoceps major)
Native Reptiles:
Desert Night Lizard (Xantusia vigilis)
Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana)
Southern Alligator Lizard (Elegaria multicarinatus)
Western Skink (Eumeces skiltonianus)
California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus)
California Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata)
San Diego Gopher Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus)
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis helleri)
Two-striped Garter Snake (Thamnophis hammondii)
Western Rinckneck Snake (Diadophia punctatus) 

Santa Catalina Island is the third largest of the California Channel Islands. It is 75 square miles in area, or about 48,000 acres, and is approximately 21 miles long and up to 8 miles wide. The island is 19.7 miles from the nearest mainland at the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and 21 miles from San Clemente Island, its closest neighbor to the south. Mount Orizaba, at 2070 feet in elevation is the island’s highest point.

Flora and Fauna:

There are over 600 different plant species which occur on Santa Catalina Island, four of which are restricted to Santa Catalina Island. Those four species and subspecies are: Catalina manzanita (Arctostaphylos catalinae), Trask’s mahogany (Cercocarpus traskiae), of which only 7 adult specimens are known; Catalina dudleya (Dudleya hassei), Trask’s monkeyflower (Mimulus traskia), probably extinct; Trask’s yerba santa (Eriodictyon traskia traskia), St. Catherine’s lace (Erigonum giganteum giganteum), Catalina ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus floribundus), and Catalina bedstaw (Galium catalinense catalinense)

There are five native terrestrial mammals found on Santa Catalina Island: the ornate shrew (Sorex ornatus willetti); the California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi nesioticus); the western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis catalinae); the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus catalinae; and the island fox (Urocyon littoralis catalinae).

Physiography and Geology:

Rugged mountains and canyons interwoven with rolling hills and pasture lands cover much of Santa Catalina Island. Sandy and cobbed coves and pocket beaches occasionally break the boldness of the otherwise generally rugged coastline. Toward the island’s northerly end, it narrows to less than ¼ mile across at the isthmus.

Santa Catalina Island, like the other Channel Islands, is composed of a variety of rock types of differing geological ages. Metamorphic rocks, 119-165 million years old, are interspersed with Miocene volcanics more recent in age. The western 2/3 of Santa Catalina contains primarily metamorphic rocks, while the eastern end is composed of igneous rocks. This is the only Channel Island on which steatite, a type of soapstone coveted by prehistoric peoples, is found.