Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Island Fox Summer Puzzle

The story of the island fox is all around you on the Channel Islands. Below is a collection of items found along the beach and trails of Santa Cruz Island during a Friends of the Island Fox's trip to see the island fox. Can you identify these items?

photo courtesy of Judy Millner

Island foxes do not swim in the ocean, but they will scavenge dead animals that wash ashore. Can you find the kelp crab carapace, mussel and two different clam shells, and remnants of a harbor seal (vertebra and half of a pelvis bone)?

DDT impacted bald eagles living on the Channel Islands. Their extinction led to a change in the natural balance which ultimately threatened island foxes. The brown pelican was also impacted by DDT in the marine environment. Fortunately, the brown pelican population has recovered because of conservation measures.  Find two hollow pelican bones. Native peoples used these bones to make flute-like instruments.

Native people have intermittently lived on the Channel Islands for over 12,000 years. The Chumash people have had a long and valued relationship with the island fox. Another island resource they valued was soapstone. Find this soft, colorful stone that was carved into a variety of items. 

Island foxes do not typically eat sea urchins, moon snails or wavy turban snails. However, these kelp forest creatures depend on a healthy island ecosystem to minimize erosion that would dump silt into the clear water surrounding the islands. This tidal area is a vital habitat for sunlight-dependent kelp forests. The island fox helps reduce island erosion by being the largest seed disperser for the island's fruiting plants. Find these sea creatures that need the island fox: three sea urchins, one moon snail and two wavy turban snails.

While the hard shell-like tunnels of the calcerous tube worm might smell interesting to an island fox, these worms live in the ocean filtering small particles of food from the water. They build their tunnels on tidal rocks and frequently on man-made docks. Find the two structures made by calcerous tube worms.

Since the mid-1800s, people have had a big impact on the Santa Cruz Island ecosystem. Find all of the items related to modern people: eucalyptus (introduced plant), concrete (from buildings), lower limb bone (canon bone) of an ungulate (sheep, goat or pig, all introduced animals), jaw bone of a pig, and a piece of molded fiberglass

Answers below:

  • kelp crab (1), mussel and two different clam shells (10), and remnants of a harbor seal (5)
  • two hollow pelican bones (8)
  • colorful soapstone (9) 
  • three sea urchins (2), one moon snail (13) and two wavy turban snails (12) 
  • calcerous tube worms (14) 
  •  eucalyptus (3), concrete tumbled in the ocean (11), lower limb bone of a sheep, goat or pig (6), jaw bone of a pig (7), a piece of molded fiberglass (4)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Radio Collar Milestone !

courtesy of Kevin Schafer
This summer:

Friends of the Island Fox 

funded its  

90th radio tracking collar
for island foxes  !

Tracking collars, like the one slightly visible on the picture at the left, are worn by island foxes across the four islands where they are considered endangered: San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands. (Look for the brown of the collar just below the fox's white cheek patch and the antennae rising up behind its ear and going over its back.) Why are radio collars important?

This rare species of fox is found only on California's Channel Islands. Where do island foxes live?

In the year 2000, four of the subspecies faced extinction. But through the joint efforts of conservation organizations, government agencies, involved local citizens of all ages and dedicated biologists in the field, all of the endangered Channel Island fox populations are recovering. What does recovery look like?

Thank you to everyone: our friends, neighbors, concerned students and global partners. You all are playing an active role in helping to save the Channel Island fox.

There is still more work to do: You can play an important roll in providing lifelong identification for an island fox. 

Find out about our 2013 Microchip Challenge.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Microchipping 500 Island Foxes

What is small and makes a BIG difference for endangered Channel Island foxes?

Microchips or Passive Identification Tags (PIT)

This summer you can help make a big difference for island foxes. With help from kids, friends, baseball fans and even a dog, Friends of the Island Fox has raised $2,500 for 250 microchips for island foxes on the northern islands that are part of Channel Islands National Park.

At the annual meeting of the Integrated Island Fox Recovery Team, FIF learned that 250 microchips are also needed to provide individual identification for young island foxes on Santa Catalina Island.

The biologists on Santa Catalina Island work hard to keep island foxes safe from a variety of threats:

the tiny microchip goes under the skin
An identification microchip allows biologists to positively identify each individual island fox

As the number of island foxes on Santa Catalina stabilizes at approximately 1,500 individual animals, more resources are need to monitor their success.

For just $10 you can fund a microchip that will provide an island fox with lifelong identification. Use the PayPal button in the upper right corner to Donate Now.

Be part of the most successful recovery of an endangered species!