Gull Island, Santa Cruz Island

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Gull Island, Santa Cruz Island
Paul Bonnot Report on the Seals and Sea Lions of California, 1928
Gull Island pinniped rookeries, Santa Cruz Island
Paul Bonnot Report on the Seals and Sea Lions of California, 1928

Gull Island, Santa Cruz Island, a small rocky island approximately 55 feet high, located on the south side of the island about a mile off shore from Punta Arena. The place name appears on the June 1882 U.S. Coast Survey map Pacific Coast from Santa Monica to Point Conception, including the Santa Barbara Channel, California, J.E. Hilgard, Superintendent.

In 1934, a survey station was located on Gull Island “on the highest and north westernmost hump of the main section of Gull Island” surveyor by Charles K. Green. The horizontal coordinates were established by classical geodetic methods and adjusted by the National Geodetic Survey in June 1996.

  • [UTM 11: North 3,760,287.712 East 238,864.066]


An automatic light was installed near the south edge of the nearly flat top shortly after the survey station was established. This triangulation station appears on the Santa Cruz Island Sheet B topographic map. The Francine, a 48-foot wood-hulled two-masted gasoline schooner sank in the vicinity of Gull Island on June 8, 1901.


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In the News~

April 11, 1899 [SBMP]: “...The crawfish companies were located on Santa Cruz Island and composed of from four to six men who had established camps at Gold [Gull] Rock, south side of island, southeast side of island, east side, Chinese Harbor, Tenters Harbor, Cueva Valdez, and maybe more...”


June 11, 1901 [SBDI]: “The gasoline schooner Francine of San Pedro was wrecked on Gull Island, two miles off the south side of Santa Cruz Island late Saturday afternoon. Captain Tacrone and son and his engineer arrived this afternoon from Santa Cruz Island giving an account of the wreck. When between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands they encountered a heavy sea and high wind and sprung a leak. They attempted to run into shoal waters near Gull Island, but the vessel filled so rapidly that they took to the boats and with the greatest of difficulty landed on Gull Island, which is only a rock about an acre in area. After much difficulty they rowed over to Santa Cruz and thence were brought over here. The loss is about $3,000 with no insurance. The Francine has been carrying sheep for the San Miguel Island Company.”


June 12, 1901 [SBMP]: “Another wreck has been added to the already long list of vessels that have found their last berths along the Channel Islands. On Saturday afternoon the gasoline schooner Francine, Captain Tacrone, sprung a leak while between Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands. The little vessel attempted to reach shoal water near the island, but could not face the heavy sea that was running. The crew took the boats and landed on Gull Island, and afterward rowed to Santa Cruz and were brought to town by Captain Maggiolo yesterday afternoon. The lost schooner was valued at $3500.”


June 15, 1901 [LAT/SD]: “Captain of schooner Francine blamed by sailor for wrecking. Joseph Cloyd, a sailor of the schooner Francine, Captain Larry Tilson, wrecked on Gull Rock, sixteen miles from Santa Cruz [Island], arrived here today from the north with a strange story. He attributes the loss of the schooner to the gross carelessness of Tilson, who, he says, ordered him to run fatally close to the rock, which she struck, drifted ashore, and commenced going to pieces. He says Tilson was indifferent about rescuing the craft, and that by Tilson’s order he wrote a letter to W. H. Doddridge of San Diego, the owner, stating over Tilson’s signature that the vessel sunk by reason of the heads of the nails being eaten off, allowing the plank to drop off. Finally, he alleges, Tilson, rather than face Doddridge, skipped for San Luis Obispo. Doddridge places credence in Cloyd’s story.”


August 15, 1903 [SBI]: “A camping party composed of P. B. Yates, J. A. MacLeod, J. T. Brown, C. E. Dunkell, E. P. Stevens, Fred W. Bliss and Guilford Kimberley of Santa Barbara… returned at noon today from a cruise to the Channel Islands. The party was absent ten days, during which time every point of interest in and about Santa Cruz and Anacapa islands was visited, the party making the trip in the power launch Peerless, Captain George Gourley in charge... J. T. Brown of Santa Barbara fell over a jagged precipice into the raging surf at Gull Island, a wild and forbidding projection from the sea on the south side of Santa Cruz Island, which is the home of hundreds of seals, pelican and other sea birds. Several members of the party expressed a desire to explore the island, and a boat was accordingly lowered to make the trip through the rocky surf. The landing was successfully made, however, and the party proceeded to climb up the rocks to the summit of the island. Brown, after having ascended a distance of about forty feet, lost his footing and fell headlong into the surf below. On all sides of him were jagged rocks and it was a miracle that his life was not dashed out in the fall. As it was, however, he fell upon his side in about two feet of water and struggled to the shore with only a few severe bruises…”


January 15, 1907 [SBMP]: “Channel Island of Santa Cruz a place of rare beauty… Santa Cruz is remarkably free from outlying dangers. Indeed there is no island so free; only for Gull Island, a rough rock on its south coast 150 feet high and stretching for a quarter of a mile…”


April 20, 1907 [SBMP]: “The power sloop Irene reached Santa Barbara yesterday shortly after noon with a quantity of seals and Captain Nidever on board. The vessel had been cruising around Gull Island. This is an island a short distance east of Santa Cruz which is a regular rookery for gulls above and seals below. Captain Nidever reported very heavy ground swells off the island, but no wind.”


December 11, 1907 [SBMP]: “...The Baltic is yet at the islands with her party camped at Gull Rock on the south side of the island.”


April 3, 1908 [LAT]: “Sad finish to fishing trip. Popular physician drowned in the surf. Dr. Joseph B. Tanner, assistant police surgeon at the Receiving Hospital and one of the most successful and popular young physicians of the Southwest, was drowned in the surf off Gull’s Rock in the Santa Barbara Islands, Wednesday morning. The body was brought here yesterday… Dr. Tanner was one of a party of pleasure seekers who left here Sunday morning for a fishing and hunting trip… All were expert swimmers. They camped on an island Monday night, spent Tuesday fishing, and next morning headed for Santa Cruz Island. Near Gull’s Rock they sighted game. A small boat was put out and Captain Grant and Dr. Tanner, taking rifles and ammunition, went ashore to get fresh meat. They tracked wild hogs for some time and Dr. Tanner wounded one. The chase left them partially exhausted and they returned to the small boat and attempted to put back to the launch. A heavy surf was tumbling on the beach. Dr. Tanner took his station in the stern of the boat, holding the rifles. Captain Grant pushed them off, but before he could gain the oars and get the boat head on against the surf, the light shell turned broadside to the waves and capsized. Dr. Tanner, holding the rifles above his head, jumped into the water. After a struggle he gained the shore. The boat was righted and another attempt made. It resulted in a second spill. Tanner swam to the shore but was caught in the undertow… A second later the heavy barrel of one weapon hit him full in his face, stunning him. He disappeared beneath the water… The launch then put to sea and ran to a near-by fishing camp where Jake Shivley, a fisherman, manned a small boat, went ashore and returned with Dr. Tanner’s body…”


April 3, 1908 [LAH]: “Dr. Tanner drowned off Santa Cruz. Dies despite efforts of comrades. Body brought to Los Angeles by friends. “Never mind me — save yourself,” last words of physician as life passes from body. With his last thought for a friend, and his last words ones of encouragement, Dr. Joseph Tanner, one of the best known and most popular young physicians and surgeons of Los Angeles, was drowned off Gull Rock on Santa Cruz Bay Wednesday morning at 9:15 o’clock. His body was recovered by comrades who were with the physician on a fishing trip, and was brought to Los Angeles by John Beckwith, a Los Angeles newspaper man, and John C. Wray, deputy game warden, yesterday morning. Dr. Tanner, Beckwith, Wray and Edward Acker left Los Angeles last Sunday morning for a weeks’ cruise up the coast. They had long planned the trip, and many promises of fine catches to be sent acquaintances were made to friends. At San Pedro the party boarded the launch Pedro, Captain A. S. Earquhart, and left for Venice, where Captain Percy M. Grant and Andrew Anderson of the Venice life saving crew joined them. C. A. Stavnew of Venice also joined the party at this point, and at 11:30 Sunday night the crowd left in the launch for Pig’s Point [?] on Santa Cruz Island. They landed there early Monday morning and passed the day fishing. ‘Early Monday morning we broke camp,’ said John M. Beckwith, when questioned about the accident, ‘and headed for Gull Rock enroute for Prisoners’ Harbor, on the channel side of the island. We had selected this place for our camp Wednesday night. We passed three hours fishing when one of the party noticed several wild hogs on the hills about five miles south of Gull Rock. One of Dr. Tanner’s ambitions was to kill a wild hog, and he and Captain Grant decided to take a dory and go to the island and try their luck. The rest of us remained in the boat and watched the captain and the physician on their trip. They landed safely and we saw Dr. Tanner shoot three times at the wild hogs. He and Captain Grant then returned to the shore and we saw them launch the dory. Dr. Tanner sprang into the stern, and the boat passed through the first line of surf. An instant later, we saw Dr. Tanner spring to his feet, and as a wave struck the boat cast his rifle overboard and jump into the waves himself. At the same moment the dory overturned and Captain Grant was thrown into the water. The water at this point was not deep, but Dr. Tanner seemed unable to keep his feet. Captain Grant grasped the physician and held him until Captain Earquhart, who had sprang overboard from the launch and swam ashore, reached them with a life preserver. This he threw Captain Grant, and the latter succeeded after heroic efforts in drawing the unconscious physician ashore. Andrew Anderson then took a flask of whiskey and swam to the aid of Captain Grant, and for two hours the party worked over the unconscious physician in a vain effort to bring him back to life. Under command of Captain Wray the launch then started for Forney’s inlet for assistance. Fortunately a fishing smack with Big Jake Shivley on board was met, and a record trip was made with the body of the physician to San Pedro… Dr. Tanner was born in Pecatonica, Illinois. He was 30 years of age and the third youngest of four children. He moved to Los Angeles With his parents in 1889...”


May 11, 1909 [SBMP]: “For the purpose of securing a specimen of the almost extinct elephant seal either dead or alive for the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, an expedition has been cruising in the vicinity of Santa Cruz Island and other Channel Islands for the past week. The expedition left Santa Barbara nearly a week ago in Captain Gourley's gasoline boat and expects to return the latter part of the present week. Beside Captain Gourley, the party comprises of William Edward Lingard, a scientist of national reputation, and at present an attaché of the Smithsonian Institute; Miller, Auditor of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, and Owen H. O’Neil, a wealthy banana planter from Acapulco, Mexico and a well know naturalist and author. The party left in the powerboat Vamoose and were well provisioned for the trip. Side from camping outfit, they carried every manner of shotgun. Then too they were equipped with an elaborate net for the purpose of catching the elephant seal alive if possible. The net was made of extra heavy hemp rope closely woven, and treated with certain oil to toughen it. It is the kind that is used exclusively for the seal trade in the south sea. The party planned to organize a central camp on Santa Cruz Island and cruise about the other islands in search of the peculiar specimen. Several of the specimens have been seen in the vicinity of Gull Island.”


May 12, 1909 [SBMP]: “After a cruise of nearly a week exploring the islands of the channel group in quest of a sea elephant, a party of scientists returned last night to Santa Barbara in Captain Gourley's boat Vamoose. Though they were unsuccessful in their quest for a species of sea elephant, they gathered a large number of shells and biological specimens peculiar to the islands, and nowhere found on the mainland... They spent several days about Gull Island in the hope that a sea elephant might be sighted but to no avail… During low tide, members of the party secured some remarkable sea shells… Among the group were Edward Lingard, an attaché of the Smithsonian Institute; R. S. Miller, an official of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company; Owen H. O’Neil of Acapulco, Mexico, a banana planter and naturalist and Captain Gourley.”


August 10, 1912 [SBMP]: “Justice Jacob Shoup yesterday continued his series of lectures on his recent fishing tour around Santa Cruz Island… He says that while his party was camped in Willow Canyon it was only a five minute task to catch ass the fish needed for a day’s eating. One day the party set some nets near Gull Rock for sea bass. Visiting their nets the next day they found no sea bass in them, but instead there were ensnared in them forty small sharks of the man-eating variety…”


December 10, 1918 [SBMP]: “As the result of a fire that started from backfiring of the engine of the launch Swallow, at Gull Island near Santa Cruz, one fisherman was drowned and another badly burned about the face and hands late Saturday, according to information reaching the mainland yesterday. During the excitement that ensued, Tony Salvo jumped overboard and was drowned. The flames spread to the launch Royo, owned by A. G. Adrada, which was also burned to the water’s edge, at a loss of $4000. The Swallow was valued at $5000. With other boats in the fishing fleet, the two launches went to the island in search of sardines. The Swallow was fishing for McCrosky Packing Company of San Pedro and the Royo for the Van Camp Sea Food Company, also of the same place. The surviving members of the two crews were taken to San Pedro by another fishing boat.”


February 4, 1921 [LAT]: “Santa Barbara. February 3. Gull Rock or island, lying a mile and a quarter off the south shores of Santa Cruz Island, has been preempted by two alleged squatters, John Gorgensen and Jacob Hansen. The two men for several years had a cabin on the shore of Santa Cruz Island, and were named as defendants in an ejectment suit brought in the courts here by the Santa Cruz Island Company. Deputy Sheriff John Longawa made a voyage to the island to serve papers on the men in the suit, but found a deserted cabin. The men had loaded their effects into a skiff and put off to Gull Rock, which is owned by the government. There they have taken possession of a cave, one of several formerly occupied by the gulls and other sea birds, and it is said by this move have defeated the ejectment suit. Gull Rock is some three acres in extent, and at times is heavily sprayed by the sea, though the cave where the men now live is high and dry, with usually a boiling surf surrounding it.”