Every year Jasper Ridge docents visit a biological preserve or field station with Philippe Cohen, the Executive Director of Jasper Ridge and the Treasurer of OBFS, the Organization of Biological Field Stations. This year's trip was to the Nature Conservancy preserve on Santa Cruz Island, one of the Channel Islands off of Santa Barbara and Ventura. Santa Cruz is one of the largest islands. The Nature Conservancy has a preserve on most of the island; the rest is part of the Channel Islands National Park.These have always been islands, never connected to the mainland. There are many species of plants, birds, and mammals endemic to the Channel Islands, or to Santa Cruz Island alone. In addition to people, there are only 4 species of resident mammal on Santa Cruz: two mice, a skunk, and the Channel Island Kit Fox, a miniature fox, quite feline in habit, a tree-climber. The Island Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma insularis) lives only on Santa Cruz Island. It is similar to our Scrub Jay; selection pressures have made it larger and more brightly colored, with a large strong bill for dealing with the acorns of the Island Oak. We spent three nights on Santa Cruz Island and saw much of it. Whales, dolphins, seals, and many seabirds hunted fish in the channel.
© Photography by Dan Quinn