San Nicolas Island is the most remote of the California Channel Islands, lying some 100 miles from the mainland. Despite its remoteness, the island has a long history of human occupation, dating back about 7,000 years. The threat to these archaeological sites comes not from humans but from hundreds of sea lions. As they drag their bodies across the dunes, they break the delicate surface crust and expose the underlying middens to wind erosion. SRI developed an unusual approach to their excavations, using a combination of remote sensing, selective mechanical trenching, and broad exposures, with the goal of identifying entire habitation areas. This approach was successful in identifying activity areas, including fishdrying and smoke-curing structures, bead-making areas, and ritual areas. Analyses of the results of these excavations provide new insights into Native American settlement of the island. Among the most surprising finds was the discovery of a local shell-bead-making industry that used sea urchin spines as drills.