What lies beneath

By Brett Johnson - Ventura County Star


Peel away the sea’s curtains, peer deep into its inky depths with modern technology’s might, and the past emerges in bits and pieces, though shifting sands and fickle currents that can just as easily push it into dark and tricky abysses.

It’s there though, both real and potentially, and right off our coast, tantalizingly close and yet hidden so far in the murk — the now-stilled vices of gold, death, war, sex, Hollywood, Prohibition rumrunners, opium smuggling and guns.

It teases to the days of roaming Spanish galleons, to when ships were kings of commerce and suppliers of news. It ranges from primitive Chumash canoes called tomols used thousands of years ago all the way to a modern airline tragedy.

Some 700 shipwrecks and plane crashes have occurred in the Santa Barbara Channel off our coast from Point Mugu to Point Sal, said Robert Schwemmer, West Coast regional maritime heritage coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

About 300 of those happened in and around the Channel Islands.


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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Spanish galleons Robert Schwemmer Santa Barbara Channel Point Mugu Point Sal