The islands rose from the ocean millions of years ago and were born of plate tectonics, volcano activity and fluctuating sea levels. During the ice ages the northern four islands were once connected as the polar ice caps expanded. Also during this time, the islands were most accessible to the mainland’s flora and fauna. When the seas rose again it created the islands and isolated them to evolve separately from the mainland as well as one another. The Channel Islands are home to over 2,000 terrestrial plants and animals, of which 145 are found nowhere else in the world. A few good examples include the Island Fox, which appears half the size of a mainland fox and the Silver Lotus Plant, found only on Santa Cruz Island’s highest peaks.