Sponge Cave, Santa Cruz Island

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Map of Sponge Cave, Santa Cruz Island by Phil Orr, 1951

Sponge Cave, Santa Cruz Island aka Lady's Harbor Cave, was named Sponge Cave by Phil Orr for the masses of white sponges living under water in total darkness. Bunnell calls this cave Lady's Harbor Cave (p. 66):

Location: Just west of the point adjoining Lady's Harbor
Length: 400' (122 m)
Conditions: “Water-filled, can be explored with a small boat or dinghy at any tide level. However, since the entrance narrows to about 7' tall at one point a lower tide is best, particularly if a swell is running. The cave is pretty well sheltered against a west swell. Dtrong lights are needed as this is one of the darkest caves on the island.”
Description: “This is one of the most interesting caves on the island. The cave lies at the head of a small cove with a prominent fault extending up to the gulch above. The entrance is large, but narrows to a small 'A'-shaped keyhole. Shortly beyond the passage is divided by a large pillar of rock. Beyond this constriction the cave enlarges and continues as a large tunnel which ends in a small sandy beach where sea lions congregate. The walls are encrusted with red algae and white calcite. The cave was named Sponge Cave by Phil Orr for the masses of white sponges living under water in total darkness. However, these sponges are found in almost every sea cave on the island, and we felt the present name was more descriptive of its location. Underwater, the cave shows an unusual topography. Where the inner chamber widens out, there is a bedrock surface about 15' deep which is riven with a series of 10' deep fissures. Diving also revealed an airbell beyond a submerged passage in the same area.”



  • 1951. Orr, Phil C. The Orca Goes Underground Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Museum Talk 26(2):13-19, Summer 1951
vessel Orca; Yates Cave, West Anacapa Island; Sponge Cave, Santa Cruz Island
[original in SCIF archives]


  • 1988. Bunnell, David Sea Caves of Santa Cruz Island Santa Barbara: McNally & Loftin, (1988)
[original in SCIF archives]