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Aerial view of Año Nuevo Island, 2009
Abandoned buildings on Año Nuevo Island, photographed in 2005.

Año Nuevo Island (Año Nuevo is Spanish for New Year) is a small island off Año Nuevo Point on the coast of Northern California, between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. It is an important breeding site for Northern Elephant Seals and the endangered Steller's Sea Lion, as well as several species of seabirds, including Rhinoceros Auklets, Brandt's Cormorants and Western Gulls. Due to the number of seals and sea lions, great white sharks are frequently spotted patrolling the waters around the island. It is protected as part of the Año Nuevo State Reserve[1].



As recently as the 18th century, what is today Año Nuevo Island was a peninsula. It has since become separated from the mainland by a channel that continues to widen. The island is mainly made up of Miocene shale and deposits from ancient dunes, along with a broad intertidal shelf and low, rocky islets, all of which are frequently altered by the erosive pounding of waves, particularly during winter storms[1].


Año Nuevo Island is managed by the University of California-Santa Cruz's Long Marine Laboratory under an agreement with the California Department of Parks and Recreation[2][3]. The Año Nuevo Island Reserve, including the island and surrounding waters, comprises 25 of the 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of the Año Nuevo State Reserve, the rest of which is on the mainland opposite the island[1].

Access and facilities

Access to Año Nuevo Island is restricted to members of approved research teams.[1][2] The island is closed to the public[4].

Año Nuevo Island has a few abandoned buildings built in the late 1800s. A residential home and foghorn station, all abandoned, are located on the island. The original light tower was deliberately toppled in the early 2000s as it began to deteriorate and became a hazard to the resident wildlife. Some of the remaining buildings are used as research facilities.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d UC Natural Reserve System - Año Nuevo Island
  2. ^ a b UCSC Reserves - Año Nuevo
  3. ^ Research Facilities of the UCSC Long Marine Lab
  4. ^ California State Parks - Año Nuevo SR

Coordinates: 37°06′30″N 122°20′16″W / 37.108333°N -122.337778°E / 37.108333; -122.337778



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