New Vaquita art

Here is a poem that I wrote for an upcoming poetry competition focused on ocean pollution:

THE NETS WE FORGET

The dark gray sky casts its shadow on the sea,
The sea swells with the wind, whipping up froth.
Thunder booms among the rolling clouds;
Lightning flashes in the distance,
But underneath, it is calm.
The muffled sound of the storm above dances off the coral.
Small reef fish swarm in and out of nooks and crannies.
All seems fine at first, but there is something wrong here.
A ghost enters the scene.
A nearly invisible drifter.
A gillnet.
But this fishing net does not belong to anybody.
It has been abandoned,
But its job is not done.
This ghost still has lives to take.
First comes a shrimp,
A puny pink prawn:
Gone.
His life ends and is doomed to drift away,
Trapped forever.
Next is a fish.
A huge one at that.
He swims right into the net,
And in the blink of an eye,
The life leaves his body.
A little porpoise swims through the shallows,
Bubbles dancing down her side.
She’s teaching her baby how to fish.
They happen upon a juicy meal,
But as the mother darts towards the target,
She is struck by a web of death.
The fish they were chasing
Was already a victim.
The baby, terrified, watches as her mother writhes in agony.
And the ghost has taken yet another life.

Here is a double exposure image, made from a Vaquita photograph and an ocean sunset photograph that I combined using digital software:Vaquita Double Exposure

And here is a mosaic of a Vaquita made out of hundreds of photographs taken during International Save the Vaquita Days 2014 & 2015:

ISTVD Mosaic

International Save the Vaquita Day has become a huge event, and one that has been—and will continue to be—making a legitimate difference for the Vaquita and its survival. Showing the people and government of Mexico that the world cares about the Vaquita and appreciates their efforts to date will hopefully inspire them to follow through with their promises and actually save this species. To make ISTVD 2016 the biggest one yet, help ignite the buzz and donate to the event by buying a cool ISTVD 2016 t-shirt!

https://www.booster.com/international-save-the-vaquita-day-2016

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My new Vaquita painting

Here is my all-new Vaquita painting/drawing that I made as a donation to Wild Lens, Inc.’s Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming Vaquita documentary, Souls of the Vermilion Sea. It is going to a very generous donor who gave $159 to the campaign, helping Wild Lens reach their goal of $15,000. I was also flattered by all the donors who bought my books, autographed or not. Between the books and the painting, donors gave a grand total of $1,104 to the campaign just for my work. You guys rock!

The painting, titled Emerging, is a combination of watercolor paint, watercolor pencils, graphite pencils, colored pencils, and pens on watercolor paper.

Image copyright © Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky

Image copyright © Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky

Wild Lens

Wild Lens, a non-profit documentary production company, has announced their latest and greatest project: Souls of the Vermilion Sea.

Souls of the Vermilion Sea

Souls of the Vermilion Sea will be a documentary about the Vaquita’s situation, especially the crucial next three years. They will be following the Vaquita and its helpers’ story until the population recovers, or tragically goes extinct.

For such an ambitious project, they will need funding. Luckily, there is a way for all of us to help make this exciting documentary a reality: Kickstarter.

Wild Lens has created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the film. And the best part is, the people who donate get Vaquita-related rewards! I am proud to say that my book, both signed and unsigned, as well as two of my original drawings are included among those prizes! Also included are other magnificent original artworks, a Vaquita ringtone, and some other amazing prizes.

So please, spare $5, or better yet, $10,000 (don’t worry, the reward is incredible) to help Wild Lens reach their goal of $15,000 within the month of June.

This amazing project can’t become a reality without your generous support!

Souls of the Vermilion Sea

The new books arrived!

I already received the books I ordered in the mail, and I am extremely happy with how they turned out. I feel every aspect of the first edition has been improved upon, and I promise you, even if you have the first edition, the second edition will be worth it. If you already planned on donating, this is a great way to do so, and you get a book about the Vaquita in return!

The Vaquita, Second Edition

All-new 6x9 size

All-new 6×9 size

Some of the many new pages and illustrations

Some of the many new pages and illustrations

Making a difference

If one person can make a difference, just imagine what a group can accomplish.

When I was very young, I was taught that we are all going to die, and life is our short window of opportunity to change the world.

Many people go through life having a fun childhood, getting a good job, raising a wonderful family, and then die content. This is the glorified image of a successful life. These people are happy, and they give their children the opportunity to have a happy, successful life as well.

However, these are not the people that are remembered for years after their death. Albert Einstein did not settle for this “successful” life, and he is one of the most well-known people in history; his name is synonymous with ‘genius.’ He might not have been as happy as an ordinary person, but he definitely affected the world more than most. He recognized his gifts and used his 76 years on this planet to accomplish incredible things. Without Einstein, who knows what our world would be like?

But you don’t need to completely abandon a normal life to be remembered…

Rachel Carson was an average marine biologist and writer. She wasn’t a genius; she wasn’t in a lab all day. She was simply conducting research projects with her colleagues and writing papers. But one day in 1957, she heard about the USDA’s fire ant eradication program, where pesticides like DDT were sprayed over large areas of land. She believed these chemicals were causing major environmental issues, many of which she witnessed firsthand. So over the next 4 years, she set out on a mission to find and share these issues with the world.

On September 27, 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, arguably the most important work of conservation writing ever created. This book changed the way we look at our effects on the natural world, and spawned the environmental movement itself.

Photographer Art Wolfe shows just how much of a difference she made:

http://artwolfe.com/2015/01/26/can-one-person-really-make-difference/

Rachel Carson remains my biggest inspiration, and without her, I have no doubts that I would not be doing what I am today. People like Einstein and Carson are proof that one person can make a difference in the world. Personally, I know I will not be satisfied with my life if I don’t have a lasting positive effect on this planet, specifically for the Vaquita. Fortunately for me, I am not alone in my desire to save this little porpoise. Now, more than ever before, we have a huge army of passionate individuals who will not let the few remaining Vaquitas slip away. If we all can show the same initiative, determination, and innovativeness of people like Rachel Carson, the Vaquita will be one lucky porpoise.

One person that is making a difference for the Vaquita in a unique way is Guillermo Munro Colosio, more commonly known as Memuco. He combines his incredible artistic skills with his compassion for nature to portray messages in an extremely compelling way. Some great examples are his Vaquita murals in Puerto Peñasco, one of the three fishing villages surrounding the Vaquita. He also creates infographics for endangered species, as well as paintings. He is a huge Vaquita warrior, and we love him and his work.

http://www.memuco.net/

Memuco and a mural he painted a few years ago in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco and a mural he painted a few years ago in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco's brand new mural in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco’s brand new mural in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco's beautiful new Vaquita painting

Memuco’s beautiful new Vaquita painting

To put the Vaquita’s current situation into perspective, imagine this:

You have a jigsaw puzzle. The picture on the box is simple and beautiful. However, when you open it up, the pieces are tiny and there are way more you thought. And you only have half an hour to complete it.

Not good, right? The Vaquita’s situation appears simple (the picture on the box): remove all gillnets. However, there are countless tiny pieces to the puzzle (fishermen, money, wildlife trafficking, government, etc.), and time is running out. There could be 86 Vaquitas left, and that could even be an overestimate. The point is, we are so close to the point of no return, that every little action has major consequences. Currently, there is a harmful algal bloom, called a red tide, going on in the Vaquita’s range. This may seem like bad news, and it could possibly be toxic to the Vaquita, but there is a huge upside: all fishing operations are on pause due to the danger of consuming contaminated sea food. So basically, it is like a ban that doesn’t even need enforcement. However, the red tide will fade away sooner or later, and the fishermen will be back on the water.

86

Luckily, strides have been made in the form of the new 2-year ban, which at least gives us a law to enforce starting in March. However, we still need to keep the pressure on the Mexican government to follow through with the ban. There need to be major short-term actions carried out immediately, and then we can worry about the long term. The most positive news is that the Mexican government says they are planning on using high-tech aerial drones to monitor the Vaquita’s range for any illegal fishing, which will relay the information back to enforcement so they can stop the illegal activity before it is too late. With the recent possible extinction of the Chinese Bahaba, many wealthy Chinese people have turned their attention to Mexico’s Totoaba, a very similar fish, for their “medical” needs. As we know, this recent increased (yet illegal) demand for Totoaba has left the poor Vaquita in the crossfire. Two more species are on their way to extinction mainly because of some ridiculous traditions. This demand needs to end, or else even strong enforcement on the water may not be enough to stop relentless poachers and cartels from killing both species, albeit one accidentally. Andrew Wright takes a closer look:

http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=18084

This will be a historical next few months for everyone in the Vaquita world. Thankfully, we don’t have to be helpless witnesses to all this. Don’t buy any seafood from the Gulf of California, Mexico, and make sure your local Chinese food restaurants aren’t selling Totoaba swim bladder soup. Keep signing the petitions to keep the pressure on, and I promise you, we really can do this.

The 97 Effect

meme

We live in a technological world. Smartphones run in our blood, and social media in our minds. Nowadays you can’t walk around without seeing someone posting a picture on Instagram or Tweeting about their brunch. Because this is what I have grown up with, it seems completely normal to me. But for many adults, this stuff must be equally intriguing, confusing, and infuriating. But love it or hate it, one thing is undeniable…

The internet is taking over.

And without the immense reach and power of social media, literally everything I do relating to the Vaquita would be impossible.

I learned about the Vaquita online, as I’m sure 99% of the people that know about the Vaquita did. I then got into contact with some Vaquita experts through email. Then, in 2011, I started this website, albeit with low expectations. Since then, countless opportunities have come up for me because of this blog, the best example being the Muskwa Club finding me. And social networks are even more effective.

I check Facebook and Twitter every day, and I am increasingly amazed by the impact the Vaquita is causing. Literally millions of people are learning about and being touched by the Vaquita’s story every day, especially recently. It’s almost like every day is a Vaquita Tweetstorm.

Every major news outlet has covered the Vaquita’s predicament, and it really is beginning to get in the pop culture limelight. It’s a shame it took there being only 97 (possibly only 88 now) Vaquitas left for this kind of attention to occur, but better late than never, right? The number 97 seems to really speak to people, which I am coining ‘the 97 Effect.’ And I am confident that all this recent exposure and outcry towards the Mexican government is what pressured them into creating the new ban (see previous post).

Here are just a few examples of the Vaquita’s newfound fame:

Clipping

Above is an example of news sources’ recent interest in the Vaquita. Maybe the number 97 has some magical qualities?

iFunny

Here is a screenshot from the Featured section of the extremely popular app, iFunny, featuring Save the Whales’ photo of a Vaquita model in a net. Notice how many likes and comments it already has (it was quite entertaining reading some of the 7,096 replies)!

QuizUp

I was very excited to see my favorite app, QuizUp, have a trivia question about the one and only Vaquita in the Aquatic Life topic! (I think I know the answer). 😉

WWF Together

This screenshot is from the iPad app WWF Together, which is quite the immersive spectacle. This free app really makes you feel like you are in another world, both visually and sonically. If you have an iPad, this one is a no-brainer.

So thanks to the 97 Effect, the Vaquita is skyrocketing into fame. Using this exposure as a springboard, let’s make 2015 the best year yet for the Vaquita! A great start is donating to VIVA Vaquita (link in the top of the right sidebar, click on the baby Vaquita being carried). Thank you.

© Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky

© Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky

 

Greenpeace

I just received an email from Greenpeace UK stating that their new Vaquita petition is the fastest-growing petition in Greenpeace history! They already have over 250,000 signers in 3 days, and it’s our job to keep that number shooting up. Please share this link to keep the heat on the Mexican government as they make their decision any day now about what their plans are for the Vaquita!

https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/protect-the-vaquita3

I am very pleased to say that Greenpeace is using one of my paintings for their social media outreach for this campaign!

10410698_10152646781538300_371668272648181126_n

I have noticed some misunderstandings about this picture. As I said when I posted this a while back, this is a digital painting/photo manipulation of a photograph of a captive harbor porpoise from the Netherlands. It has become by far my most popular artwork (it is near the top when you search ‘Vaquita’ on Google images), so I just wanted to clear up everything. I obviously did not intend to confuse anyone. Vaquitas cannot be kept in captivity for many reasons, so this kind of view of a Vaquita is impossible. I wanted to show what it would be like to see a real, alive Vaquita close up. And of course, I do not want to cause any problems for the original photographer.

But I am flattered that Greenpeace thought it was a real Vaquita. 😉