The Santa Barbara Island, CA IBA occupies 75,746 hectares of pelagic open water habitat. The IBA is located in the Southern California Bight ecoregion.

It is owned and managed as: federal-other, and has the following primary uses: military-other, tourism/recreation-other, and ports.

Santa Barbara Island, CA is an IBA for the following species: Western Gull. It contains an estimated 7,800 Western Gull (breeding).

The Channel Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California in three counties, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara. The Islands are located in the Southern California Bright (SCB), which is characterized, by rich fertile waters and an abrupt change in coastline. The waters surrounding the North Channel Islands are encompasses by 6 nautical miles of ocean that are protected by the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Santa Barbara is the southernmost Channel Island in Channel Islands National Park. Santa Barbara located 80 km southeast of Anacapa. It is located off the coast of Los Angeles County, 38 miles from San Pedro City.

Ornithological Summary

Santa Barbara Island, CA is an IBA for the following species: Western Gull. It contains an estimated 7,800 Western Gull (breeding). These surveys were conducted between 1989 and 2006. Santa Barbara Island is home to 12 species of seabirds totaling 15,000 breeding birds. This includes the largest United States colony of Xantus?s Murrelets, second largest colony of Brown Pelicans, and third largest colony of Ashy Storm-Petrels. Santa Barbara Island also supports smaller colonies of Black Storm-Petrel and Cassin?s Auklets. The island historically supported a large population of Cassin?s Auklets, however introduced herbivores and feral cats greatly depleted their numbers. Western Gulls and Pigeon Guillemot also breed here. There is also 14 species of land birds, three of which are endemic including, horned lark, orange-crowned warbler and house finch.

Conservation Issues

The efforts of the National Park Service have greatly decreased many of the threats to San Miguel Island, especially those of introduced species. However, the island is still at risk from many threats including human disturbance, pollution, oil spills and the remaining invasive species. Ashy Storm-Petrels in particular are susceptible to numerous threats including; human disturbance to nesting colonies, eggshell thinning, predation, oil pollution, light pollution, and degradation to habitat. Concerns have also been raised due to the significant increase in squid fisheries surrounding the Channel Islands. The high wattage lights used by the shallow water fishing boats increase predation to Xantus?s Murrelets and Ashy Storm-Petrels. Because of the location of the Channel Islands, next to major coastal cities, the islands are subject to constant amounts of pollution from untreated storm water, deposition of aerial pollutants, surface slicks with toxic chemicals, and re-suspension of contaminated sediments. DDT and its derivatives have also had a large effect on seabird reproduction, especially during 1992 and 1997, which resulted in eggshell thinning and premature embryo deaths. By 2008, those effects have greatly been reduced and have much less of an impact on seabirds. Although the last major oil spill occurred in 1969, the Channel Islands are largely susceptible to oil spills due to the 27 oil platforms and numerous shipping lanes with high oil transport located in neighboring ports and waters. This oil activity exceeds any other location in California, Oregon, and Washington. More than 25% of plant species on Santa Barbara is invasive including sweet fennel and Eucalyptus. These invasive species can increase the frequency of fires, change habitats for breeding seabirds, and cause soil erosion. Santa Barbara has one species of Eucalyptus and the landscape is largely dominated by invasive grass species.


The Santa Barbara Island, CA IBA is owned and managed as: federal-other. The North Channel Islands are managed by the federal government through the Channel Island National Park, which was established in 1980. The waters offshore are part of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, which is one of three National Marine Sanctuaries. The islands are virtually undeveloped due to federal ownership and a few other factors.


The Santa Barbara Island, CA IBA is characterized by the following habitat types: open water. The IBA is located in the Southern California Bight ecoregion. All the Channel Islands including Santa Barbara has a Mediterranean climate that is characterized by cool, wet winters and hot dry summers. This climate is slightly milder than the mainland counterpart due to the marine influence, which creates milder summers, increased humidity and more fog. Average temperatures range from 53-39º F in the winter and between 62-70º F in the summer months. The island is largely frost free as temperatures rarely reach below freezing and the average humidity is around 60%. Heavy fog is very common and often blankets the whole island. When there is large amounts of fog temperatures rarely reach above 55º F. Santa Barbara Island?s dominant plant communities include, grassland, coastal sage scrub, maritime desert scrub and coastal bluff scrub. Introduced grasses dominate much of the landscape and are in the process of being eradicated by the National Park Service. The island has one species of introduced Eucalyptus. Offshore the cold, nutrient rich waters from the north support diverse wildlife including productive kelp forests that occur of the southwest coast of the island.

Land Use

The Santa Barbara Island, CA IBA is used for: military-other, tourism/recreation-other, and ports. The Channel Island National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the United States and has less than 250,000 visitors per year, largely due to the islands remoteness. Santa Barbara has no permanent residence and is used only for recreation and research. There is a campsite with outdoor restrooms and no running water.

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