Tag Archives: Catalina Island

Toyon Bay Safari Animals

If you are slightly familiar with Catalina Sea Camp, you have most likely heard of our friendly neighborhood bison. But there are so many other species of animals that call Toyon Bay home. Every week, we welcome circa 200 campers to invade the bay and to have one of the best weeks of their summer. I wanted to take a look at the more permanent residents of the bay.



Bison Bison

The bison is not native to Catalina Island. In 1924, a filming company decided to take advantage of the beauty of Catalina Island to film the movie “The Vanishing American” there. Then someone on the crew decided that they simply must have bison there in order to enhance the movie. They paid to have these bison shipped over to the island, they filmed the movie, and then they shipped off—without the bison. Now, this massive animal has made the island its home, and sometimes makes trips down to camp to say hello.


Photograph by: Ashley Hann



My only encounter with sea stars had been watching the talkative one in Finding Nemo. Then one day, I joined a group of campers on a snorkel, and our instructor dove down and found one. I watched, just as fascinated and intrigued as the 10 and 11 year olds, as our instructor showed us the creature. She later told me that she was worried about the stress level of the sea star, which when risen, can cause their limbs to fall off. A common party trick for sea stars and other aquatic creatures, this defense mechanism can occur without killing the sea star due to its regenerative nature.

animals sea star


Zalophus californianus

We’ve seen them on scuba diving trips, kayaking trips, blue water boat trips, around our float during the evening hours, and even on our beach a time or two. These babies can grow up to 800 pounds, but can cruise through the water at up to 25 miles per hour. If you have never seen one of these creatures move through the water, go to YouTube and spend some time researching. It’s nothing short of magic.

animals sea lion

Photograph by: Ashley Hann


Triakis semifasciata

So my boss told me that we would probably see sharks my first time snorkeling here in the bay (also my first time snorkeling ever). As prepared as she made me to face these lurking masses, I still had to force myself to breathe normally when I first saw its shadow about six feet away from me. Since then, I have probably seen a hundred of these guys, and I am now proud to say that I have touched one (in a closely monitored touch tank here in camp, but still). In reality, these sharks are fairly harmless. They are bottom feeders, so their mouths are towards the bottom of the sea floor; meaning bites to humans are difficult and thus uncommon.

animals shark

Photograph by: Gretchen Beehler


Hypsypops rubicundus

These bright orange little fish are all over our bay. They’re territorial little buggers, but they also make for a beautiful pop of color. Garibaldis are protected in California because they are the state marine fish. Some people say these fish can be trained to do a back flip, but I have only ever heard of one specific garibaldi that can do it.


animals garibaldi

Photograph by: Ashley Hann


Urocyon littoralis catalinae

One of the first nights here I saw a stray cat near me. Nostalgic for my cat at home, I beckoned for it to come close to me and love me. After attempting and failing for longer than I care to admit, the creature ran away, and I realized that the animal I was trying to snuggle was a wild fox. The Catalina Island Fox is threatened specie of fox. It is registered with the Conservancy program on the island, which has been working since 2004 to bring population levels back up to normalcy. In 2004, there were just over 300 foxes on the island. As of 2017, over 2,000 foxes have been reported. Despite the work done and the accomplishments of the initiative, this fox remains threatened, and efforts will not cease.

Joel Sartore, a National Geographic award winning photographer featured the Catalina Island Fox in his photo project on endangered species, entitled the Photo Ark. Check it out here!


Canis lupus familiaris

The most dangerous animals on the island—rock-fetching retrievers. These four pooches belong to our longstanding admin in the bay. You can follow Casi’s life here on her very own Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/casi_at_cimi/). All four of them have a very stressful life of unlimited affection and belly rubs, wide-open spaces to frolic and play, and all the rocks to fetch in the ocean that they could ever want. There are no signs that these animals will become endangered anytime soon, but I’ll keep you updated.

These are only a few of the most common fauna here in Toyon Bay, and I, for one, look forward to many more run-ins with these incredible animals.




Spotlight – Rescue Dive

Did you know you can become a NAUI-certified Rescue Diver at Catalina Sea Camp? Dive programming at Catalina Sea Camp covers a host of diverse activities and skill sets, both to encourage divers to explore the underwater world around Catalina Island and to educate divers to become better equipped to handle the challenges of this extreme sport.

rescue dive campers

One of the courses that campers enjoy is Rescue Dive. Led by NAUI Dive Instructors here at Sea Camp, the rescue diver course serves to educate campers about first-aid procedures in dive-specific circumstances. The course covers both skin diving and SCUBA diving and ranges from the classroom setting to the water, allowing for campers to apply their training in real-life simulations.

rescue dive matt

Matt Menninger leads the current Rescue Dive course, helping a small group of students learn the ins and outs of rescue diving. The opportunity for divers to learn these skills not only allows for them to be more confident underwater, but also gives them peace of mind when diving with others in all kinds of conditions. Ultimately, Rescue Dive is just one of many great opportunities for campers to stretch their skills to new levels, equipping them to make the most of future adventures, and stay safe in the midst of ever-evolving challenges.

rescue dive card

Have fun, Rescue Divers!

Making Friends at Camp

Coming to Catalina Sea Camp is full of new moments. Whether it’s sailing over the open water or learning how to knock and fire your first arrow, camp here teaches us all kinds of lessons. Arguably one of the most important, though, is the way that camp allows us form friendships that become the essential new ingredient to thriving in a new setting. No matter whether we make friends to enjoy camp experiences together, support each other through homesickness, or challenge each other to learn and appreciate the beauty of surrounding nature, making new friends is a surefire means to ensuring the summer ahead will be one of the best experiences a camper can have.

Friends all


One of the ways we celebrate these new experiences here on Catalina, and at many other camps across the nation, is through making bracelets to commemorate the friends made at camp and remember the role friends play in our lives. The bracelet most commonly used to celebrate new friends at Sea Camp is known as a Turks Head bracelet, during the making of which the ends are fused together to represent celebrating the impact camp has on new friendships and allowing campers to truly be themselves and thrive through celebrating uniqueness. To learn how to make the Turks Head, come to camp and learn from one of our instructors or counselors! For now, though, we created a simpler DIY for those interested in learning a simple way to commemorate new friends. Watch the video and read the instructions below to get started.

What you will need:

  • 2 Strands of thicker rope
  • 2 Strands of thinner rope
  • A Clip Board
  • Tape

Instructions (also refer to the video for a more thorough visual description):

  • First, measure out two arm lengths and cut the thicker and thinner ropes to have four lengths of rope, each measured to two arm lengths.
  • Second, tie one end of all four ropes together in a knot and place the knot underneath the clip of the clip board
  • Third, arrange the two thicker ropes side by side to the end of the clipboard and tape them down, securing them on whatever surface you are working on.
  • Fourth, use the smaller lengths of rope to tie knots around the thicker pieces, the way we like to do this is by alternating which side the knots are tied on (refer to the video to watch how the knots are tied, take note of shaping one side like a four and pulling through the other side from under the thicker rope)
  • Fifth, continue this process, either alternating or keeping the knots to the same side for two different unique looks, until the bracelet has reached the adequate length to reach around one’s ankle or wrist.
  • Sixth, once the desired length is reached, tie the other end in a knot and cut off the excess rope.
  • Seven, tie the bracelet around your wrist or ankle and show it off to celebrate new friends and fresh experiences!


A couple of people behind the scenes that make camp that make every day the the best day ever are the Head Counselors. Their main purpose is to help and support all of our counselors in the wonderful job that they do looking after all the campers. They also do some less exciting paperwork and administration type of tasks. Everything they do is to help make the best experience for all the campers. 

Now to introduce our funny head counselors who have come from afar…

Meet our Head Female Counselor, Marea and our Head Male Counselor, John


Although Marea has spent most of her time living with butterflies in New Zealand, she recently has decided to step out of her cocoon and travel to the U.S.A for the summer. In her free time she likes to sing songs and skip around town. She has been training to be able to lick her elbow, and thinks she will be able to do it by the end of the Summer!


Helloooooooo! My names Swan or Swanny or Swanathon or hey you. Swanny comes from a land down under…yes, you guess it, England! Hahaha He has been trying for years to become the lead juggler in the traveling circus. Although every year they tell him that he should try again next year. We all hope his dreams will come true. In the meantime he has decided to try his talents in the U.S. While here he plans to train in his free time. We really wish him the best of luck. 

If you can’t tell we love have fun and being silly. We hope you had a laugh and enjoyed the video.



Bro pic 1

GUYS are you ready for a change? Then dive on in and discover your adventurous side at Catalina Sea Camp! If you have not already signed up for Catalina Sea Camp you should do it now. We already have a waitlist in most sessions for girls.

Catalina Sea Camp • One-Week Sessions

Coed Ages 8 – 13

One-Week Session 1:  June 11 – June 17           $1,600 (Waitlist for Female Campers)
One-Week Session 2:  June 18 – June 24           $1,700 (Waitlist for Female Campers)
One-Week Session 3:  June 25 – July 1              $1,700 (Waitlist for Female Campers)

*Please note: Catalina Sea Camp One-Week Sessions run from Saturday to Friday

Space is limited in some sessions.  A NON-REFUNDABLE deposit of $200.00 is required to register. Register HERE

Catalina Sea Camp • Three-Week Sessions

Coed Ages 12 – 17

Three-Week Session 71:  July 3 – July 22          $4,400 (Waitlist for Female Campers)
Three-Week Session 72:  July 24 – August 12   $4,400 

Space is limited in some sessions. A NON-REFUNDABLE deposit of $200 is required to register. Register HERE

*Please note: Catalina Sea Camp Three-Week Sessions run from Sunday to Friday

Applying and Registration 

All of our camp sessions fill up very quickly, so APPLY EARLY!   For additional information or questions, please contact us.

Phone: 800.645.1423 or 909.625.6194
Fax: 909.625.9977 or 909.625.7305

Don’t Miss this Summer FUN!

You could be having all this fun!

Registration is Still Open! Hurry before we are full! 

Catalina Sea Camp • One-Week Sessions

Coed Ages 8 – 13

One-Week Session 1:  June 11 – June 17           $1,600 (Waitlist for Female Campers)
One-Week Session 2:  June 18 – June 24           $1,700 (Waitlist for Female Campers)
One-Week Session 3:  June 25 – July 1              $1,700 (Waitlist for Female Campers)

*Please note: Catalina Sea Camp One-Week Sessions run from Saturday to Friday

Space is limited in some sessions.  A NON-REFUNDABLE deposit of $200.00 is required to register. Register HERE

Catalina Sea Camp • Three-Week Sessions

Coed Ages 12 – 17

Three-Week Session 71:  July 3 – July 22          $4,400 (Limited Availability for Female Campers)
Three-Week Session 72:  July 24 – August 12   $4,400 

Space is limited in some sessions. NON-REFUNDABLE deposit of $200 is required to register. Register HERE

*Please note: Catalina Sea Camp Three-Week Sessions run from Sunday to Friday

Applying and Registration 

For additional information or questions, please contact us.

Phone: 800.645.1423 or 909.625.6194
Fax: 909.625.9977 or 909.625.7305
Catalina Sea Camp • P. O. Box 1360 • Claremont, CA 91711
Email: Sea Camp Registrar
Office Hours: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM (Lunch 12:30-1:00)

Happy New Years Eve!


Only hours until those transitional 10 seconds that lead us into the New Year. What have you done differently this year compared to the last? Did you uphold your end of the deal to practice a consistent workout routine, to eat healthier, or to spend more time outdoors? Or did new resolutions arise as this year began to age? Lets take a minute to think back on this year and reflect on all that we have accomplished.NYResolutions

It’s tradition to set goals with a new coming year in order to make change and to better ourselves as individuals. A fresh start is what most interpret the New Year to be, and many take advantage of setting up check points in order to steer ourselves towards success. As human beings, we only want to enhance ourselves so that we can embrace the maximum that life can give each of us individually and simply enjoy it with peace. This whole resolution phenomenon is said to have began back with the ancient Babylonians. It was believed among the people that in order to have a good year and be in good status with the gods that they would make promises that needed to be fulfilled in order to pay respects to those above them.

As you are looking back on 2015 and all the doors that you have walked through, focus on the growth you’ve succeeded within yourself. The goals you’ve reached. The transitions you’ve made. Focus on the people and the experiences that have taken you from the moment that glass, shimmering ball hit zero seconds on January 1st to the person you are right now in the present, both good and bad. Don’t reject the bad, but accept it and learn for growth is a natural process that shouldn’t be fought. Whether you know it or now, you’re a different person from once this year began. Use all that you have gained to help you make new resolutions for the upcoming year.

Here at CIMI and Catalina Sea Camp, we all make resolutions in order to make our time here the best that it can be, whether it’s related to making ourselves better educators or conservationists on this island, or even to make us better hosts for the students and campers who visit us.

The most important message to take this is to set yourself up for success. Make goals that will optimize your happiness and experiences in life. If you’re aware of things that need change, make goals that will help you find resolution and lead you towards feeling ultimate in the end. We hope to see you soon next year in 2016!!!

Written by: John Cornett

Photo Credits – http://thecenterforfamilies.com/keeping-your-new-years-resolutions/

5 Must Haves When Packing for Camp

The first day of camp is almost here! Now, of course that means packing for your child. This can be a stressful and overwhelming process. We want to give you a heads up as to what is really important for your child to bring with them to camp. Here are the 5 simple things your child MUST HAVE.

1. Good Pair of Shoes
Every camper needs a good pair of shoes. It doesn’t matter what color, brand, or how long they have had them. The purpose of a good pair of shoes is to get your child moving, participating, and ready for any adventure that awaits them. Camp is a place where your child can try new things in an environment where they are safe and supported.

shoes (1)

Good shoes have them jumping for joy!

2. Cap – Thinking Cap
A thinking cap isn’t an actual tangible item however it is important to the experience your child will have at camp. Trust me, their thinking cap will get used. Your child isn’t in school, yet there are so many opportunities to learn about the ocean, Catalina Island, and even about themselves. Some of the activities are designed to be fun and entertaining and engage your child’s critical thinking skills in order to accomplish tasks. Not only does your child’s thinking cap help with problem solving, it is also critical in having a positive attitude. No matter what camp your child attends, there is always something that doesn’t go as planned. The weather is bad for a hike or the waves are not big enough to stand up in surf class. Whatever the case may be that things didn’t go as planned; a positive attitude can completely change the experience from so-so to spectacular!

Casi has her thinking cap and she is thinking this is a great place for a nap.

3. Suit – Silly Suit
Camp is the place where you can wear your silly suit the entire time. Wearing your silly suit means singing at random times. It means not being afraid to be yourself. It also means you can actually wear the silliest things you can find and no one will think twice about what you have on. So bring your costumes, wigs, funny hats, and gorilla suits…they will get worn. Oh and since we are surrounded by ocean, bringing an actual swimming suit is a good thing, too.

silly 2 (1)

4. Goggles – Friendship Goggles or Mask
At camp your child will put their goggles on and open their eyes to all the possibilities of friendship. There will be children at camp from all over the world, so your child has the opportunity to make friends with kids from all backgrounds and walks of life. Differences are a place for common ground at camp and these friendships form quickly. Many of the friendships made as 8-year-olds last a lifetime. The friendship goggles will help them to open their eyes and their heart.

Friends (1)

5. Toothbrush
A toothbrush because everyone needs one or that would be gross.

All kidding aside, this list will ensure your child has a memorable experience this summer. While packing clothes and everything else on the packing list is important, do not panic if something is forgotten. Being willing to try new things (good pair of shoes), having a positive thinking (thinking cap), being silly (Silly suit), and opening your heart (Friendship goggles) to new people is what camp is really all about.

Can I Eat That? Catalina’s Edible Plants

Catalina is already in full bloom with new growth. Each week brings more flowers, grasses, and shrubs to the hillsides, making every hike a treasure hunt of new plants to discover. With the right knowledge base, a hike on Catalina can become a culinary exploration of many of California’s edible plants. Some of these plants can be eaten as a snack on the trail; others might be prepared as part of an evening meal; all are delicious. Here are some of the more common edible plants found around Catalina:

IMG_4157 (1)Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata): Miner’s Lettuce is a California native and is found in many moist, shaded areas on the island. Its leaves are edible and can be eaten sauteed or raw, like spinach. During the California gold rush, the lettuce served as an important source of vitamin C for miners who wished to stave off scurvy.

Messages Image(759678131)Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum): Blue Dicks, or Wild Hyacinth, is a perennial herb that is native to Southern California and much of the Southwest. While the bluish-purple flowers are not known to be edible, the Blue Dicks’ corm, a swollen underground stem that provides the plant with water and nutrients, has historically been harvested by indigenous peoples of the Southwest. The corms can be eaten boiled or roasted, and they served as a hearty source of starch in the diets of many Native Americans.

IMG_4164Catalina Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii): Catalina Cherry, or Island Cherry, is a fruit tree native to the Channel Islands. Its cherries have a tart-sweet flavor and a large pit. The trees commonly bloom in the Spring and fruit in the Fall. Cherry Cove is home to the largest Catalina Cherry grove on the island.

IMG_4149Bladder Pod (Isomeris arborea): Bladder pod is a native shrub and a member of the mustard family. Both its flowers and large seed pods are edible, but they have a very strong flavor when eaten raw. When cooked, the plant takes on a mild, sweet flavor. Native southern Californian and Mexican tribes often mixed the flowers and seeds with onions and served them on top a tortilla.

IMG_4076 (1)Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae): Bermuda Buttercup, otherwise known as sourgrass, is a yellow flower that is invasive to Catalina. The leaves, stem, flowers, seeds, and roots are all edible, but don’t make it a mealtime staple! Oxalic acid gives the plant a tart flavor that is perfect for a refreshing, mid-hike snack, but it can be toxic in high quantities.



We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. Catalina Sea Camp 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 minimum a Bachelors Degree in Marine Science or related subject. 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.catalinaseacamp.org for additional information. Happy Reading!