DAILY, Marla (b. 1950) cultural anthropology graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara and California Channel Islands historian. Daily has been President of the Santa Cruz Island Foundation since December 1987. She has been studying and writing about the cultural histories of all eight Channel Islands for more than 40 years, and her California Channel Islands encyclopedia, Islapedia, is now online and over 17,000 pages.
Daily began her island work when she spent the summer of 1973 as a participant in an archaeological survey on Santa Cruz Island with archaeologists Albert Spaulding and Michael Glassow.
From 1974-1979 Daily worked for the University of California's Santa Cruz Island Reserve as assistant to Reserve Manager, Lyndal Laughrin. In 1980 Daily was hired by Carey Stanton, island owner, to work for the Santa Cruz Island Company as his personal assistant.
In 1985 Stanton formed the Santa Cruz Island Foundation (SCIF), a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the cultural histories of all eight California Channel Islands. Daily was appointed as Vice-President.
In 1987, Daily published her first book, California’s Channel Islands: 1001 Questions Answered (published in three editions). Over the next three decades, Marla Daily and SCIF published more than a dozen additional books about the California Channel Islands, including Cowboy Island: Farewell to a Ranching Legacy, Santa Rosa Island (2000), and Richard Diebenkorn and Carey Stanton: A Private Collection (2005). Dozens of additional articles have appeared in professional and popular journals.
Upon Stanton’s death on December 8, 1987, Daily became president of the Santa Cruz Island Foundation (SCIF), a position she holds until her retirement. Under Daily’s management, SCIF published dozens of books and articles about all eight of California’s Channel Islands. She became one of the first female members of the prestigious bibliophilic Zamorano Club of Southern California, with limited membership numbers, after Stanton's death.
In 1994, the California Historical Society bestowed upon Ms. Daily their Distinguished Service Award for her:
- extraordinary leadership and service to the people of California and the nation for her dedicated efforts to preserve and promote the history of the California Channel Islands.
Daily has served on the advisory councils of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and board of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. In addition, Marla Daily has been an honorary member of the Santa Barbara and Ventura Yacht Clubs for more than 30 years; she was the only-ever female member of the Skunk Point Yacht Club, Santa Rosa Island, appointed in 1995. She is a life member of both the Santa Barbara Historical Museum as well as the Museum of Ventura County.
In 1994 Daily founded the All Eight Club, a geographic-based-exploration club with membership limited to only those who have walked on all eight California Channel Islands. It has been called the most exclusive geographic club in the world, with membership just over 200. More people have been to the International Space Station, or reached the continents' seven summits, than have walked on all eight islands.
In 2008, Daily was invited as a Fellow on the Explorers Club of New York (est. 1904), joining the ranks of the world's most interesting explorers. She her induction, she has served the Club as chairman of the Youth Activity Fund, which supports high school and college students globally, with grants to facilitate and promote youth exploration.
Also in 2008, Daily was honored to be named a Santa Barbara Hero of the Year by the Santa Barbara Independent.
In 1983 while on a research voyage to the Pacific Islands of Baja California, Daily met Kirk Connally, Master Mariner and captain of the R/V Diamaresa. The Connally family founded Island Packers in 1968, eventual concessionaire to Channel Islands National Park. Marla Daily and Kirk Connally married on July 8, 1989 in Talkeetna, Alaska.
Daily is the first woman documented to have visited ALL EIGHT California Channel Islands. She has visited all eight islands multiple times; most of the Pacific Islands off the Baja Peninsula; and Farallon Island. Daily collected plants on Bird Rock, Santa Catalina Island (1986); Santa Cruz Island (1976+); San Nicolas Island (1978+); Santa Rosa Island (1979+).
In addition to all Eight California Channel Islands, Daily has been on the Additional Alta and Baja California islands in bold below:
- Anacapa Island
- San Clemente Island
- San Miguel Island (1981)
- San Nicolas Island (first visit 1978)
- Santa Barbara Island
- Santa Catalina Island [including Bird Rock in 1986]
- Santa Cruz Island (first visit 1973)
- Santa Rosa Island (first visit 1979)
ALL EIGHT PLUS:
- Rincon Island (man-made Channel Island) (1992, 2018)
- Farallones (2017)
- Año Nuevo
- Islas Coronado
- Islas Todos Santos (1983)
- Isla San Martin (1983, 2018)
- Isla San Geronimo
- Isla Guadalupe (19 , 2000)
- Islas San Benito (1983)
- Isla Cedros
- Isla Natividad (1983)
- Isla Asuncion [July 6, 1983]
- 1995. Allen, Kerry Island Fever. Marla Daily's long love affair with the Channel Islands Santa Barbara Magazine (13) Winter 1995
- 2020. Daily, Marla Burgess, Larry E. Thirty-Year Thoughts: An Editor's Reminiscence Hoja Volante 288:3-4, February 2020
- 1984. Cushing, John, Marla Daily, Elmer Noble, V. Louise Roth & Adrian Wenner Fossil mammoths from Santa Cruz Island, California Journal of Quaternary Research 21(3):376-384, April 1984
- 1986. Cushing, John, Marla Daily, Elmer Noble & Adrian Wenner A groundwater hypothesis for the origin of fire areas on the Northern Channel Islands California Journal of Quaternary Research 26(2):207–217, August 1986
- 1989. Daily, Marla The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island: A New Hypothesis on Her Origin California History 68(1/2):36-41, Spring/Summer 1989
- 1990. Cushing, John, Marla Daily, Elmer Noble & Adrian Wenner Mammoth Radiocarbon Dates from the Northern Channel Islands, California 1990
- 2011. Marla Daily Archaeological Evidence of Eagles on the California Channel Islands Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 31(2):3–11, 2011
In the News~
March 25, 1981 [SMI Notes]: “Drove to Camarillo Airport to meet Peter Vogt and wife, Susan; ranger Bruce Craig and wife Pat; and cameraman David for our 7:30 a.m. flight to San Miguel Island in the [Britten Norman] Islander. Hard time fitting all people and gear into the plane. We flew out through semi-clear skies 'til San Miguel where we had to drop below the fog bank extending around the island. Peter used my camera and between the two of us we shot a roll of film on the way over. We landed at the ranch strip )site of the old Lester ranch house now gone — primarily burned — which wasn't much of a strip at all. We had to make two trips for all the gear (cameras and water). My pack weighed 45 pounds. Hiked through thick green grass down to the camp tents, etc, and Peter and David began filming to fog rolling over across the island through the Coreopsis in full bloom. They also did close-ups of Sidalcea and Circium occidentale. Had a quick lunch at camp and set out for Hoffmann Point, east of Cuyler's to look for sea lions or harbor seals. The fog dropped and we were all very wet and somewhat disoriented. Visibility was very poor. I had already hiked across the top of the island to the south side before lunch and had gotten some good pictures pre-fog. Saw two foxes — one in the canyon above the out house and another on the south-facing side of the island in the grasses. Bruce saw one as well, west of camp. While on our hike in the fog we saw a fourth. All were untagged. We hiked to a steep dune area covered with caliche and midden material we assumed was Hoffmann Point, but couldn't tell for sure. No orientation points. It's wonderful to feel the island and ocean breezes again. (Writing this on the beach at Cuyler's Harbor sitting under the fog bank. Great sensation.” [Note: This trip was with Vogt & Associates, now Vogt Productions, film makers of the 30-minute Channel Islands documentary, A Treasure in the Sea , shown for the next 30 years at CINP visitor center in Ventura.]
February 15, 2011 [Lompoc Record]: “Diverse Channel Islands can fascinate. The chain of four are situated some 25 miles off the south coast. Sometimes they're lost in the haze. At other times, they seem to float on the horizon like etherial Bali Hais. On clear days, they appear almost close enough to touch, their canyons deeply etched. THey're a chain of four Channel Islands some 25 miles off the South Coast, visible from Highway 101. East to west they are Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands. Along with tiny Santa Barbara Island to the south, they make up Channel Islands National Park. While they look similar from the mainland, "Each island has its own heartbeat," said Marla Daily, president of the Santa Cruz Island Foundation, an organization devoted to the islands' preservation. Treeless San Miguel, the westernmost island, gets the brunt of the northwest winds, said Daily. Also known for its shipwrecks and extensive seal and sea lion population, it has a monument to early explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who visited in 1542 and maybe buried there. Next is Santa Rosa, the second largest, where Vail & Vickers ran a cattle operation for a century. Cattle have since been removed. Santa Cruz, the largest and highest island with its noted Prisoners' Harbor and Scorpion anchorages, has remnants of recent ranch history, including houses, barns and a chapel. The western three-quarters of the island is owned by The Nature Conservancy. Anacapa, but a square mile in size, is the second smallest island. A series of three islets, it is known for its lighthouse and Arch Rock, the islands' symbol. The islands, noted for plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, are largely uninhabited except for rangers and maintenance personnel stationed there at various times. There are no paved roads. Primitive camping is available. Islands can be reached by boat from Island Packers out of the Ventura Harbor. For schedules and rates see www.islandpackers.com. ”