Tag Archives: guy harvey

High school sisters want to #Save the Vaquita porpoise

Rachel Rose loves dolphins and porpoises.

As long as she can remember they have been her very favorite animals and she has encountered them both in the wild and at marine parks.

Her twin sister Abby loves marine mammals too but her favorite pastime is photography.

Together these two Texas ninth graders want to do something to save the vaquita.

The “what” you ask?

The vaquita is a type of porpoise, the world’s smallest in fact and also the single most endangered marine mammal. There are only 30 estimated left on the planet.

Living in the upper reaches of the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), these small, strikingly-marked cetaceans are the very definition of critically endangered.

save vaquita abby rachel
The girls are sporting the #savethevaquita shirts with the hashtag program on front and Dr. Guy Harvey’s artwork on back. Harvey has partnered with Sea World to raise funds for Vaquita CPR an international effort to save the species by creating a “Save the Vaquita” line of items that will be sold at Sea World Parks and through Dr. Harvey’s properties in which 15 percent of proceeds go directly to conservation efforts. They are holding the vaquita print also available for sale.

“It’s so sad that that such a beautiful creature could go extinct. It’s time we do something about it. We support what Dr. Guy Harvey and Sea World are doing with #savethevaquita,” Rachel said.

The girls have grown up working with our Kingdom Zoo outreach and had an encounter with a wild pink albino dolphin on one of our expeditions in 2013.

“I loved dolphins before but I really loved them after that and it made me appreciate marine mammals. We want others to appreciate them and contribute to saving the most endangered species of all-the vaquita,” Rachel said.

They will be helping with two events to help raise funds for vaquitas, a food fundraiser called “Fajitas for Vaquitas” which will take place at the Kingdom Zoo: Wildlife Center in Pinehurst, TX (Orange area) Sat. July 29 and Kingdom Zoo will be auctioning off prints of some of Abby’s wildlife photography.

“I love shooting photos of animals and I am excited that some of my photos can help raise money for the vaquita. They are one of God’s special creations and we are so excited to help them in any way. We have our #savethevaquita shirts and are inspired by Dr. Harvey’s amazing artwork,” Abby said.

The girls know saving the vaquita is a big task but that great things happen when people come together in the name of wildlife conservation.

“We can all do something,” Rachel said.

Indeed.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

Saving the Vaquita

“30”

That is the number of days in an average month.

There are 30 teams in the NBA.

And there are 30 tracks on The Beatle’s The White Album.

It is also how many vaquitas scientists believe exist on the planet.

The vaquita is a type of porpoise, the world’s smallest in fact and also the single most endangered marine mammal.

vaquita image 2
© Thomas A. Jefferson/VIVA Vaquita

Living only in the upper reaches of the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), these small, strikingly-marked cetaceans are the very definition of critically endangered.

A gill net fishery that is now heavily centered on another endangered species-the totoaba (fish), vaquitas often end up tangled in the nets and either killed or left to die.

“The issue facing the vaquita is emblematic of larger impacts that humans are having on our oceans,” said world renown marine artist and conservationist Dr. Guy Harvey.

“From unsustainable fishing practices to marine pollution to changing ocean chemistry, human behavior is negatively affecting ocean health. As the human population continues to increase, we will depend on our oceans even more and need to ensure that we are using these resources in a sustainable manner to benefit future generations.”

Harvey has partnered with Sea World to raise funds for Vaquita CPR an international effort to save the species by creating a “Save the Vaquita” line of items that will be sold at Sea World Parks and through Dr. Harvey’s properties in which 15 percent of proceeds go directly to conservation efforts.

“I was proud to paint my first ever vaquita porpoise in support of SeaWorld and VaquitaCPR’s efforts to save this species that is on the brink of extinction,” Harvey said.

In addition Sea World has donated an additional $120,000 to the project.

“The plight of the vaquita porpoise illustrates the devastation the illegal wildlife trade can inflict on a species,” said Dr. Chris Dold, SeaWorld’s Chief Zoological Officer.

“We are proud to partner with Guy Harvey to help educate people about this crisis and raise money toward a solution. The Vaquita CPR effort is an extraordinary, last ditch attempt to prevent the extinction of a porpoise species that is only found right here in North America. We at SeaWorld care deeply about the ocean, and we care especially about the animals that live there. We can not sit idly by as another animal goes extinct.”

vaquita image 1
© Thomas A. Jefferson/VIVA Vaquita

According to Vaquita CPR which is spearheaded by the National Marine Mammal Foundation the Mexican government has determined that emergency action is needed to temporarily remove some of the remaining animals from their threatening environment and create a safe haven for them in the northern Gulf of California.

An emergency conservation plan has been developed by an international team of experts, with field recovery operations set to begin in May 2017. Catching and caring for vaquitas may prove impossible, but unless we try, the species will likely vanish.

A project like this might indeed seem impossible. After all, is there any hope for a species that only has 30 representatives?

In 1987 there were only 22 California condors. Now there are more than 400.

The black-footed ferret was thought extinct in the early 1980s and then a population of a few dozen was found. Now, thanks to captive breeding and active monitoring efforts there are around 1,200 in the wild.

Yes, the fact vaquitas are ocean dwellers complicates things but there is still hope. The common denominator for all endangered species success stories is people taking action.

And that is what a coalition of people are doing right now.

Let’s do what we can to help the vaquita by supporting those who are supporting efforts to save this beautiful, severely endangered marine mammal.

Chester Moore, Jr.

Guy Harvey and the Gulf’s missing shark

A long time ago in the far, far reaches of the Gulf of Mexico...

The contrasting bars of the pilot fish create a striking image in the cobalt blue waters just beyond the continental shelf. Swimming in unison they dart, twist and turn in natural aquatic harmony.

Suddenly, from amongst the motion a strong form emerges.

Swimming with focus and purpose, the white bars on its fins reveal the ocean’s wanderer: the ocean whitetip shark.

Oceanic_Whitetip_Shark
Photo by Johan Lantz/Wiki Commons

It continues its trajectory at a slow but determined pace. Cruising just beneath the surface, it is set to prey on anything it might encounter.

Pickings can be slim in this desolate environment.

Once considered the world’s most common large animal (over 100 pounds) they are now  deemed critically endangered. This is especially true for the Gulf of Mexico.

In a 2004 study, researchers Baum and Myers noted a 99 percent decline of oceanic whitetips in the Gulf since the 1950s.

“Scientists there once considered this species a nuisance because of the prevalence around vessels. Nowadays it is rarely seen,” they noted.

In hundreds of trips in the Gulf out of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi this writer has never seen one. And neither have dozens of veteran Gulf anglers I have interviewed.

And that concerns ocean art icon and conservationist Guy Harvey.

“The oceanic whitetip is a truly remarkable shark and due to the high demand of fins from large shark species they have declined dramatically,” Harvey said.

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Currently the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) and its partners are engaged in a study to track and analyze whitetip populations. They are studying the stock structure of oceanic whitetip sharks on a global scale by using genetic techniques, and migration patterns of this species in the western Atlantic with the aid of satellite tracking technologies.

Information gained on the whitetip’s movements can help create better management strategies to save the species.

When Harvey called the species “remarkable” that is not a generalized statement. He has firsthand knowledge having spent time in the water with the species and producing a documentary about their plight.

“They are bold and have no problems approaching a diver which makes for great interaction and observation,” Harvey said.

Harvey’s works with whitetips has allowed him to create stunning works of art showing the declining species in all of its glory.

Art captures the mood and feel of a natural scene better that photography and Harvey’s instantly recognizable style has resonated with an ocean-loving public in a way that connects them to wildlife.

“Things happen so fast down there and you have limited time. Painting allows to create a way to raise awareness to species that otherwise might not get much attention,” Harvey said.

The oceanic whitetip is one such creature.

If they disappeared tomorrow few anglers would notice.

Beachcombers never see these open water dwellers anyway so that only leaves wildlife journalists like myself, researchers like Harvey and his crew and a handful of shark fanatics who would even notice their demise.

But to the ocean it does matter.

An intricately woven food chain has already been disrupted and if they were to vanish forever, the balance would be upset.

And the world would lose a beautiful, cunning predator.

We should do our best to support research like GHOF are doing and all efforts to ensure shark populations not only survive but perhaps one day thrive like they did so long ago in the Gulf and beyond.

Chester Moore, Jr.