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Channel Islands Live Puts Visits to the National Park Within Virtual Reach

Check in on the bald eaglets or experience live hikes, dives and more — all at your leisure

How does a visit to a remote island at no cost to you sound? If this idea intrigues you, consider going on a virtual journey to the Channel Islands National Park.

Through technology you can remotely join a live interactive dive or hike on Anacapa Island, or watch a young eaglet in the nest on neighboring Santa Cruz Island — all part of a distance-learning program called Channel Islands Live.

The interactive program, sponsored by the National Park Service and the Ventura County Office of Education, is broadcast via microwave signal in real time from the remote islands to eager students and the public using video conferencing and the Internet.

The Live Dive presentation allows viewers to experience a rare glimpse into a seldom-seen marine environment without ever getting wet. Participants accompany trained national park divers on an underwater journey into the kelp forest, one of the most prolific marine ecosystems in the world.

This summer, for the first time, park rangers will broadcast a Live Hike from 14 miles offshore on Anacapa Island. The hike will feature a remarkable human history of more than 10,000 years, the last light station built along the California coast, and rare species of plants and animals that have adapted to this isolated island environment.

Channel Islands Live programs are broadcast Wednesday through Saturday with a Live Hike at 11 a.m. and a Live Dive at 2 p.m. through Labor Day. These presentations are sent via microwave wireless technology to the Internet and park visitor center.

Wildlife enthusiasts are drawn to the popular bald eagle webcam as the daily drama of the chicks’ development unfolds. In 2010, this webcam connected more than 160,000 unique visitors from more than 145 countries worldwide who generated more than 1.5 million hits. A webcam on Anacapa Island provides views of seabird rookeries, the iconic Arch Rock, the lighthouse and the Santa Barbara Channel.

Click here to take a virtual visit of the islands. Click here to watch the bald eagles. Click here for the Anacapa Island webcam.

Noozhawk contributor and local freelance writer Chuck Graham is editor of Deep magazine.

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