Point Conception, Southern California Bight

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Point Conception, Southern California Bight

by | Oct 4, 2018

Point Conception is located at the northwestern end of the Santa Barbara Channel and together with Point Arguello creates a natural division between the Southern California Bight and the coast of Central California. Point Conception was first noted by Spanish maritime explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo on October 18, 1542, where he encountered heavy winds while rounding the point and was driven to San Miguel Island. In 1602, Sebastian Vizcaíno sailed past the cape, naming the headland Point of the Immaculate Conception.

The original light station was built in 1856 on a sandstone promontory 215 feet (66 m) above the ocean. The lighthouse was moved in 1881 to an elevation of 133 feet (41 m) because fog would be less likely to obscure the light. The light station was automated in 1973. In December 2017, The Nature Conservancy purchased the ranches surrounding Point Conception with a donation, and the property will be known as the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve.

On November 4, 2000, the research vessel Ballena was engaged in side-scan sonar surveys near the coast when a rogue wave capsized the vessel near Point Conception. The ship was 56 feet (17 m) long, and the wave estimated at 20 feet (6.1 m) high. Two crew members were trapped briefly inside but were able to find their way to the bridge doors and escape. The crew donned the two available life jackets and all three attempted to swim to shore. The captain made it shore first and then swam back out to assist both of the U.S. Geological Survey crew to shore. The vessel broke apart in the waves against the rocky shore and was a total loss. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point Conception here:

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