Meeting Cabrillo National Monument – Alisa Renee Hernández

Hi everyone!

This summer, I will be working to analyze and report out on Cabrillo National Monument’s herpetofauna community data collected over the last twenty-five in the park. Since starting my internship, I have visited Cabrillo National Monument to explore the historic and natural sites sites of the park, read lots of primary literature about my study subject, and worked on developing coding and data analysis skills.

Alisa at the welcome sign for Cabrillo National Monument

During my first few visits to Cabrillo National Monument located at the end of Point Loma in San Diego, California I explored the park’s history, natural beauty, and the areas where the data I am analyzing is collected. While it is a small park, only 160 acres, Cabrillo National Monument has a fantastic staff working to protect the park’s natural and cultural resources and make park visits unforgettable. I have had the pleasure of meeting everyone who works here (even a snake education ambassador)!

Alisa (right) and Sam (left) holding Boros (snake), a California Kingsnake and animal education ambassador of Cabrillo National Monument.

Cabrillo National Monument is such an incredible park with lots of different features and habitats! One of these features is the monument depicting Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, as seen in the image below. Another historic site is the lighthouse located at the highest point within the National Monument. This lighthouse was built in 1855 and has served many purposes in its lifetime: as a military outpost, bay waypoint, and residence. However, because of the lighthouse’s location at the top of the hill, it did not make a great lighthouse as rising fog would often block the light. Since the lighthouse has become a historic site, another lighthouse has been built at a lower elevation, and is managed by the US Coast Guard.

Alisa in front of the statue dedicated to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.
Alisa in front of the old Point Loma lighthouse at the highest point in Cabrillo National Monument.

Cabrillo National Monument is also home to several beautiful trail areas. My favorite so far is the bayside trail that features Californian coastal sage scrub along the trail above the bluffs. This area was quiet and lovely to stroll around, with a stunning view of the ocean. It is also the location one of the herpetofauna trapping arrays that I will be working with this summer. In the next couple of months, I will be conducting surveys at these pitfall arrays around the park to better understand where the herpetofauna data I’ve been working with comes from.

The view from the bayside trail in Cabrillo National Monument. The vegetation seen here is Californian coastal sage scrub.
One end of the pitfall array with a bucket used to capture herpetofauna as part of surveys.

Another beautiful natural area can be found in the tidepool area. The tidepools are in a rocky area that is only revealed by the low tide. This is also a fun place to look for interesting intertidal critters! I got to see some green anemones and even a few crabs (see some cool pictures below)!

A crab (above) and green anemone (below) seen in the tidepools of Cabrillo National Monument during low tide.

Overall, Cabrillo has been amazing to explore and visit. I am looking forward to spending my summer here in sunny, beautiful San Diego.

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