Tag Archives: sea world

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.

Encountering Sea Lions

SEA WORLD SAN ANTONIO—Have you ever seen a sea lion smile, heard them “talk” or saw them flipping through the air? 

Well I did and it was inspiring.

These peppy pinnipeds were amazing during a brief visit with them at Sea World San Antonio. The sea lion trainers were equally amazing but somehow fell short of the actual sea lions.

After all, the sea lions are the stars, right?.

A sea lion’s contagious smile will make everyone else respond with a grin or maybe a laugh depending on what trick they are doing at the moment.

“Digit” and “Leon” are two sea lions with the Discovery Point interactive program at SeaWorld San Antonio.

sea lion blog 4

When you interact with sea lions you are up close and personal with them. The warm and gracious sea lion trainer Catherine Brown guided us through the encounter and let us know Digit has a bit more manners than the silly Leon.

Each person that goes through the interactive program will be shown simple hand gestures the trainers use with the animals. Each gesture will result in a different behavior such as smiling, waving and various water tricks.

sea lion blog roar

During the interaction the trainers reward each behavior with love, attention and of course fresh fish.

It was amazing to watch each animal respond to the attention of the trainers. The love and attention given to each animal was just as important to them as the fish. Although they never turned down the fish.

Ms Brown also discussed the anatomy of the sea lion, showing us their fur, fins, teeth, and vibrissae, which resemble whiskers. Each body part of the sea lion was created for a unique and special purpose in sea lions.

Their “whiskers” allow sea lions to feel vibrations in water which is used for hunting fish for their meals in the wild. In Seaworld these “whiskers” help them balance balls for guests.

sea lion blog 1a copy

It was incredible to learn all of the different parts and their purpose for survival in the wild. Ms Brown also shared stories of rescuing wild, baby sea lions and releasing them when they were able to survive on their own.

Seaworld trainers are more than just entertainment and caretakers of the resident animals. Each of them are involved in species survival and rescue programs around the world.

As the encounter ended, we waved goodbye to the fun-loving creatures and I left a bit of my heart with them and I took away memories for a lifetime of love for the species, especially Digit and Leon.

If you would like to visit these remarkable animals and many more visit SeaWorld San Antonio and to register for an encounter with sea lions or other animals go to  www.seaworldparks.com.

At “The Wildlife Journalist” we believe encounters with animals like this and ecotourism are crucial for creating an interest in wildlife conservation. With at least two generations completely hooked on electronic devices it might take jumping into cool water and getting roared at by a sea lion to let them know there is more to life than what appears on a screen.

And maybe, just maybe such an encounter will create in them a love and determination to help our world’s wonderful marine mammals.

Lisa Moore