The abundant natural resources of the sanctuary have attracted and supported seafaring people for thousands of years. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is rich in maritime heritage, from living Chumash culture to historic shipwreck resources. Sanctuary waters are a significant maritime trade route connecting people and communities with one another and other parts of the world.

a Black and white photo of a ship


Over the last two centuries, some 300 ships have met their fate among the rocks and reefs of the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.

Photo: Lester Family Collection

A tomol being rowed at sunrise

Chumash Heritage

The island and marine ecosystems co-evolved with the Chumash and their culture. Chumash maritime culture has been and continues to be intimately shaped by that connection.

Photo: Robert Schwemmer, NOAA