Tag Archives: Exploration

Did You Know: The Pacific Ocean

Did you know that the name ‘Pacific’ comes from the Latin word ‘pacificus’ which translates to peaceful. The Pacific Ocean originally discovered in September 1513 by Vasco Núñez de Balboa while he was searching for gold. It later got its name from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magelllan back in 1521. He first called this waters “mar pacifico” which translate to peaceful sea. Ranking as the largest ocean, covering about 30% of the Earth’s surface, the Pacific can be anything but peaceful! Most of the world’s volcanoes, about 75%, are actually located in the Pacific Ocean creating what we know as the ‘ring of fire’. Many earthquakes occur in this area due to the high volcanic activity thus making the Pacific anything but peaceful!


The Pacific Ocean is actually divided in the North Pacific and the South by the world’s equator. Here on Catalina Island we are located in the North Pacific were the temperature of the water is much cooler. These cooler waters allow for a high diversity of marine invertebrates and expansive kelp forests. These kelp forests are home hundreds of different species of fish, primarily pertaining to the rockfish family. We do however see some of the tropical damselfish such as the Garibaldi and the Blacksmith. Blacksmiths (Chromis punctipinnis) are often seen traveling in schools and feeding off of plankton such as copepods and are know for the vibrant blue coloration.



Likin’ Lichen

Lichen is the combination of fungi, algae and even bacteria through a symbiotic relationship. It is one of the few organisms we know about that draws upon and spans across multiple kingdoms! Lichen are known as pioneer species: a species that will colonize new ecological systems. An example of this is our own Catalina Island! When Catalina rose from the ocean through the collision of tectonic plates, Catalina was mainly rock, inhabitable by most plants and animals. Through wind and bird dispersion, lichen was brought to Catalina. The lichen is capable of being a pioneer species because it decomposes rocks for their main source of energy. When lichen breaks down rock it slowly will become soil and thus a potential source for new plants and life. However this process is not quick, it is estimated that it takes about 10,000 years to make 1 inch of soil! Lichen is also an extremely slow grower, most lichen only will grow about a millimeter every year.

Here at CIMI lichen covers almost every rock face we have spanning from the beach to the top of our canyon. CIMI, Toyon Bay, instructor Kenny is seen in our video talking about lichen while sporting an old pioneer’s hat. He encourages you to next time stop and appreciate our mostly unnoticeable friends next time you hike! We’re lik’n lichen!

Geology Rocks in 15 Seconds

This Geology Rocks in 15 Seconds video demonstrates the unique geological landscape that is Cherry Cove. Once a mining community, Cherry was a large producer of Galena, a metallic mineral that is an important source of lead and, on rare occasions, silvers! Near Cherry, the rock quarry was used to harvest stones used for many things on the mainland, including Long Beach break walls.

One can find many types of stones in or near Cherry Cove; Lion’s Head, an iconic landmark of Cherry is made of blue schist, Bird Rock is made of Sedimentary Breccia, Ship Rock is composed of mostly igneous rock from volcanic activity, and one can find Diatomaceous Earth, rock made from the remains of dead plankton, within the walls of Little Fisherman’s Cove. There are many more different rock types that can be found on Catalina Island, ranging from the iridescent emerald of Green Schist to the soft textured Soapstone.


We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. Catalina Island Marine Institute is a hands-on marine science program with an emphasis on ocean exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and ocean happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree usually in marine science or related subjects. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science and ocean information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.cimi.org for additional information. Happy Reading!