Fossil Reef | MARINe

Fossil Reef

Click here for Long-Term trends

Click here for Biodiversity Survey findings

Fossil Reef is located in the Northern Channel Islands, within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, on Santa Rosa Island, California. This site is located in an Area of Special Biological Significance (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz Islands ASBS) in Channel Islands National Park. Hard sedimentary rocks form jetty-like reefs with flat rock and sand between. The shale rocks are often eroded into irregular shapes. Crumbly rock forms a steep bluff behind the reef.  The reef itself extends from the bluff over 100 m. There are wide flat areas of reef between finger ridges that slope down to the west.

Fossil Reef long-term monitoring overview

Fossil Reef is dominated by consolidated sandstone bedrock, and the area surrounding the site is comprised of a mixture of consolidated bedrock and sandy beach. The primary coastal orientation of this site is south.

Long-Term Monitoring Surveys at Fossil Reef were established in 1988, and are done by Channel Islands National Park. Long-Term MARINe surveys currently target the following species: Chthamalus/Balanus (Acorn Barnacles), Mytilus (California Mussel), Silvetia (Golden Rockweed), and Endocladia (Turfweed). In addition, motile invertebrates and mussel size structure are monitored at this site. Click here to view Long-Term trends at this site.

Fossil Reef biodiversity overview

Biodiversity Surveys were done by University of California Santa Cruz in 2001 and 2004. The Biodiversity Survey grid encompasses one section that is approximately 30 meters (along shore) x 10 meters (seaward). Click here to view Biodiversity Survey findings at this site.

For more information about Fossil Reef, please contact Stephen Whitaker (

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