Our San Juan Islands

Conserve now. Enjoy forever.

The San Juan Preservation Trust works with our local communities and people like you to permanently conserve and care for special places throughout the San Juan Islands.

We acknowledge that we reside on the ancestral lands and waters of the Coast Salish people, who have called this place home since time immemorial, and we honor the inherent, aboriginal, and treaty rights that have been passed down from generation to generation.

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Soon, the emergence of flowers will liven this world. One "beautiful disaster" of a flower called death camas (Toxicoscordion venenosum) has a transfixing ecological story.

Death camas is an attractive native forb that is full of a toxin called zygacine, which can be lethal to insects and animals. Zygacine is even present in it's pollen and nectar... a great defense, although a bit strange to toxify the mechanism that ensures it's own reproduction.

Yet, as evolution shows, no defense is impenetrable. One solitary bee called the death camas bee (Andrena astragali) is the only bee species who has adapted to pollenate this flower. The death camas bee rolls the pollen into a ball (making sure not to eat it) and places it in it's ground nest. It will then deposit one egg on top of the pollen, and when the egg hatches, the larva will eat the pollen. This means that either the larvae are tolerant of the poison, that they can sequester or detoxify it, or that the pollen loses toxicity before the larvae hatches.

This codependent ecological relationship works for the flower and the bee—until it doesn't. As the San Juan Islands experience warmer springs, death camas is blooming earlier (sometimes as much as two weeks earlier). However, Andrena astragali aren't responding in the same way, they are sticking to the same schedule that they are used to. If this gap continues to grow, it could create a "timing mismatch" where these two species could miss the opportunity to exist during critical times in each others lifecycles.

This is one example of how climate change is effecting our native plants and pollinators here in the San Juan Islands. Thank you Thor Hanson for bringing this phenomenon to our attention.

Death camas on Turtleback | Kurt Thorson

#climateactionnow #protectwhatyoulove #sanjuanislands
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Soon, the emergence of flowers will liven this world. One beautiful disaster of a flower called death camas (Toxicoscordion venenosum) has a transfixing ecological story.

Death camas is an attractive native forb that is full of a toxin called zygacine, which can be lethal to insects and animals. Zygacine is even present in its pollen and nectar... a great defense, although a bit strange to toxify the mechanism that ensures its own reproduction.

Yet, as evolution shows, no defense is impenetrable. One solitary bee called the death camas bee (Andrena astragali) is the only bee species who has adapted to pollenate this flower. The death camas bee rolls the pollen into a ball (making sure not to eat it) and places it in its ground nest. It will then deposit one egg on top of the pollen, and when the egg hatches, the larva will eat the pollen. This means that either the larvae are tolerant of the poison, that they can sequester or detoxify it, or that the pollen loses toxicity before the larvae hatches.

This codependent ecological relationship works for the flower and the bee—until it doesnt. As the San Juan Islands experience warmer springs, death camas is blooming earlier (sometimes as much as two weeks earlier). However, Andrena astragali arent responding in the same way, they are sticking to the same schedule that they are used to. If this gap continues to grow, it could create a timing mismatch where these two species could miss the opportunity to exist during critical times in each others lifecycles. 

This is one example of how climate change is effecting our native plants and pollinators here in the San Juan Islands. Thank you Thor Hanson for bringing this phenomenon to our attention. 

Death camas on Turtleback | Kurt Thorson

#climateactionnow #protectwhatyoulove #sanjuanislands

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Jan Brattain Sue Edgerton Wylie Bryant Keith Tuley

Dr. Frances Robertson, Coordinator of the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee (MRC), takes a boat trip to the swift waters near the mouth of Cattle Pass, where she finds a large group of Steller sea lions hauled out on Whale Rocks.

As Dr. Robertson explains, Steller sea lions are the largest member of the eared seal family. These gregarious pinnipeds need undisturbed, rocky shoreline habitat where they can rest, socialize, molt, and escape predators, such as transient orcas.

Donated to the Preservation Trust in 1992, Whale Rocks are among a unique collection of rocky islets near the southwest end of Lopez Island. The islets provide strategically located habitat not only for sea lions, but also for other marine mammals and a variety of seabirds.

Disruptions to wildlife caused by tour boats making close approaches to the rocks led SJPT, working with the MRC, to establish a voluntary 200-yard no-entry buffer zone in 2005. So let's respect the sea lions and other wildlife by enjoying their presence from afar!

#ProtectWhatYouLove #SanJuanIslands #stellersealions
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