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Marin Islands

Marin Islands National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
View of both Marin Islands as seen from the East Peak of Mount Tamalpais
Map showing the location of Marin Islands National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing the location of Marin Islands National Wildlife Refuge
Map of California
Location Marin County, California, United States
Nearest city San Rafael, California
Coordinates [1]
Established 1992
Governing body U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
USGS Topographic Map of San Francisco/San Pablo Bay

Marin Islands are the two small islands, East Marin and West Marin, situated offshore from San Rafael, California, in the San Pablo Bay extension of San Francisco Bay. The islands comprise the Marin Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which was established in 1992. The surrounding submerged tidelands are also included in the refuge.

The islands are named after the Coast Miwok man known as Chief Marin, after whom Marin County was later named. He is thought to have hidden out there in the 1820s after escaping from Mission San Rafael before being recaptured and incarcerated at the Presidio (in present-day San Francisco).[2]

West Marin Island, elevation 26 meters (85 ft) above the bay waters, supports the largest heron and egret rookery in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nesting species include great egrets, snowy egrets, great blue herons, and black-crowned night herons.

East Marin Island, a former vacation retreat, now supports a variety of introduced and native plants and provides critical nesting material and rest sites for the nearby colony.

The submerged tidelands support a variety of resident and migratory water birds such as surf scoter, black oystercatcher, diving ducks, and osprey. Refuge objectives are to protect migratory species, including the heron and egret nesting colony, protect and restore suitable habitat for the colony, and protect the tidal mud flats and unique island ecosystem.

The islands are the property of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and require special permission to visit. They were donated to the federal government by the Crowley family of San Francisco. They had been bought by Thomas Crowley at auction in 1926 for $25,000 in the hope that they would become the western terminus of the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge. Instead, they became a family vacation spot for more than sixty years.

See also


  • Refuge profile
  • Refuge website
  1. ^
  2. ^ Goerke, Betty. 2007. Chief Marin, Leader, Rebel, and Legend: A History of Marin County's Namesake and his People. Berkeley: Heyday Books. ISBN 978-1-59714-053-9

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

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