Santa Barbara Islands (sănˈtə bärˈbrə, –bərə) [key], or Channel Islands, chain of eight rugged islands and many islets, extending c.150 mi (240 km) along the S Calif. coast from Point Conception to San Diego. The islands were visited in 1542 by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer in the service of Spain. They are located from 13 to 68 mi (21–109 km) west of the mainland. Santa Cruz (98 sq mi/254 sq km) is the largest island of the chain. Santa Catalina Island is the most economically developed of the islands and is a popular tourist center. The island fox and the Santa Cruz Island pine are native to the area; large numbers of sea mammals inhabit the waters around the islands, including sea-elephant and sea-lion herds and the California gray whale. Anacapa, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel constitute Channel Islands National Park, est. as a national monument 1938; designated a national park 1980 (see National Parks and Monuments (table)).
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