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On that day, Drake landed on the islands to collect seal meat and bird eggs for his ship.He named them the Islands of Saint James because the day after his arrival was the feast day of St James the Great.The islands lie 30 miles (48 km) outside the Golden Gate and 20 miles (32 km) south of Point Reyes, and are visible from the mainland on clear days.The islands are part of the City and County of San Francisco. The islands were long known by the name Islands of the Dead to the Native Americans who lived in the Bay Area prior to the arrival of Europeans, but they are not thought to have traveled to them, either for practical reasons (the voyage and landing would be difficult and dangerous) or because of spiritual beliefs (the islands were believed to be an abode of the spirits of the dead).
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The name of St James is now applied to only one of the rocky islets of the North Farallones.
The islands were apparently first given their names of the “Farallones” (literally, “cliffs”) by Friar Antonio de la Ascencion, aboard the Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno's 1603 expedition. seven farallones close together." It is believed that probably for the next two centuries after their discovery, their rather ominous appearance, lying just off the entrance to San Francisco Bay, most likely caused the earlier mariners to prefer to skirt far to the west and offshore from the entrance to the bay, thus leading to the much later discovery of the San Francisco Bay by land over two centuries after the 1542 discovery of the islands.
As the city grew, the seabird colonies came under severe threat as eggs were collected in the millions for San Francisco markets.
The trade, which in its heyday could yield 500,000 eggs a month, was the source of conflict between the egg-collecting companies and the lighthouse keepers.