NBC7's Military Reporter and photojournalist, Mark Sackett, met with officials from the Navy for an exclusive look into how they protect San Clemente Island and its creatures.
Bombs explode all the time - just 70-miles off San Diego’s coast on a Navy-owned Island, but there's more to San Clemente Island than just bombs and bullets.
In fact, San Clemente Island has it's own little furry ambassador.
Ann Marie Graham-Nussbaum, the Natural Resources Operations Manager for San Clemente Island, says the Navy hired people like her, to maintain the pristine habitat.
"The navy seals don't want people to know they've walked down a path. Well, it's kind of our mission too is to make sure it looks like nobobody's walked down it,” said Graham-Nussbaum. "This greenhouse area is an example of how the Navy balances nature and operations. It's like a bank of plants to help keep the island's ecosystem balanced."
Ann Marie's team protects plants and animals- some unique to the Island.
Wayne is a San Clemente Island Fox - a subspecies of the Island Fox, that adapted because of isolation.
But if it weren’t for the environmental team, Wayne wouldn't be alive.
"We were doing population survey trapping and when we trapped him he had wounds in his abdomen uh his he had teeth marks on his head,” said one of the biologists on site.
Wayne was about 4 months old - and showing signs of starvation, perhaps abandoned by his parents and attacked by an adult fox.
It took surgery to save him.
"He went to the ‘foxpital’ and we have biologists on the island and their job is to take care of the um plants and animals so he was able to recover,” said Graham-Nussbaum.
Wayne can't survive on his own, so this is his piece of island real estate. Now he's a furry ambassador for the island's native life - making friends with every visitor - as any good ambassador should.
“He's wonderful, he's been a wonderful opportunity for everybody to learn more about the natural resources and beautiful things on this island that the Navy takes care of,” Graham-Nussbaum said.
Every year, the environmental team surveys the populations of protected animals - including Wayne's brethren. They also vaccinate some of the animals to prevent diseases that could damage the populations.