Catalina Island
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November 25, 2017 - 8:51am

Articles by Jim Watson

A new study published earlier this month in the journal Marine Mammal Science reports that North Pacific blue whales—which are regularly seen around Catalina Island—have made a surprising comeback population-wise in the years since hunting the creatures was outlawed.

The study, conducted by Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management and the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, both Seattle, Wash., organizations, found there are about 2,200 blue whales swimming in the eastern Pacific Ocean from Mexico to Alaska.

The people of Catalina can rightfully boast about the role their Island has played in the development of at least two of the world’s most popular forms of ocean sports:  the Tuna Club brought us the revolutionary concept of sport fishing at the turn of the 20th Century and the Island’s crystal clear waters were one of the birthplaces of perhaps our most world-renowned local ocean sport, SCUBA diving.

Many a year ago, when Spanish galleons plied the seas, there was set forth from Baja California an expedition under the command of Gaspar de Portola to survey the wild western coast of North America for the Spanish crown. It was the first recorded expedition of its kind by Europeans in this neck of the woods and it was the same expedition, accompanied by Father Junipero Serra, that set in motion the establishment of California’s iconic missions.

A 16-year-old from New Jersey who swam from Catalina to the mainland last August successfully swam across the English Channel on Tuesday.

The swim from England to France by Charlotte Samuels was the third jewel in the open-water “Triple Crown,” making Samuels the youngest swimmer ever to win the honor.  Besides the English Channel and the San Pedro Channel, the Triple Crown includes a circumnavigation of Manhattan Island, which Samuels completed last July.

Just a quick announcement about the final tally on last month’s fundraising efforts for Doctors Without Borders.  During the month of August, all of my proceeds for the sale of my book “Mysterious Island: Catalina” were earmarked for that noble medical charity.

I am pleased to say that through the month of August we raised $254.29.  Payment was made from me for that amount to the organization on Wednesday.

Editor’s Note: As of press time, much of the damage created by the surge from hurricane Marie was still being assessed. Next week, the Catalina Islander will provide greater coverage of the storm surge and its aftermath.

For the second time this summer, Catalina Island was pummeled by swells and surge kicked up by a Mexican hurricane. But this time, the damage done over the past week by Hurricane Marie, was far greater.

Editor’s Note:  Jim Watson is the author of “Mysterious Island: Catalina,” available at Amazon, Kindle and in stores in Avalon.  All proceeds from sales on Amazon and Kindle for the month of August will be donated to Doctors Without Borders.

“Where can we rent golf carts?”

That simple, common question from a pair of visitors last Monday marked a milestone in the annals of official greeters for Catalina Island.

First off, my first attempt at using this column to do a little fundraising activity is doing fairly well.  All the month of August I am donating all proceeds from Amazon and Kindle sales of my book “Mysterious Island: Catalina,” to the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, not only because of the scary outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, but because they’re just good eggs all around at that outfit.

Because of its proximity to Tinsel Town, Catalina Island’s history is inextricably linked with some of Hollywood’s most colorful characters.

Well-known celebrities like Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne and, more recently, Whoopi Goldberg and Nicholas Cage, have all been regular visitors to the Island at one time or another.

A 16-year-old girl from New Jersey braved powerful currents, not to mention jellyfish stings, to swim the 20-mile distance from Catalina Island to the mainland last Monday.

Charlotte Samuels slipped into the dark, cool waters of Catalina just after midnight on Monday and reached the shores of the Palos Verdes Peninsula at 7:45 p.m. that evening.  The crossing took a total of just under 20 hours to complete.