Times have changed

I remember when I was a little boy
first learning about the Vaquita.
I was filled with wonder and determination…
Determination to keep them on this planet.
I donated my Christmas money;
I didn’t get souvenirs when the rest of my family did,
so I could donate even more.
I told everyone I knew,
and told them to do the same.
I even started a Vaquita club at my school to raise money.
I emailed the experts as often as I could,
and read every book and website with the word, “Vaquita.”
I don’t exactly remember what I thought was going to happen to the species,
but I know what I wanted to happen.
That was around the time Chris Johnson’s movie came out,
and I loved it.
But I was also scared…
Scared we might lose the Vaquita forever.
Thinking back upon these things,
I wasn’t doing very much.
But I loved doing it.
Then came V-log.
I still remember coming up with the name,
“A vlog is a video-blog, and Vaquita starts with V, so it could be a Vaquita-blog!”
I was 11 at the time, so I wasn’t the best with websites.
My first post was,
“Vaquita is Spanish for ‘little cow.'”
I became obsessed with learning and writing about the Vaquita,
so I started a book on it.
When I finished writing the book,
I kind of stopped for a little while.
But then my passion was rekindled by art.
I learned that I love to draw, especially Vaquitas.
I began illustrating my book.
And then, on one fateful March morning,
I received a comment.
It was from William Whittenbury.
He told me all about his club,
The Muskwa Club.
My life changed dramatically on that day.
Together, we have accomplished so much.
Videos, tables, my book’s publishing,
and National Save the Vaquita Day.
This event coincided with the Official Norm law,
and this summer was one of utter awesomeness for the Vaquita,
and me.
I am learning the ways of a businessman, conservationist, and artist.
Or some combination of the three…
Muskwa and I may be getting some pretty crazy ideas,
but hey, they are working.

And there has never been a more exciting time in the world of the Vaquita.

Book signing recap

Here is the email I received from Beth Whittenbury (mother of William, Muskwa Club President) who so graciously helped me out by setting up and attending my “book signing” today:

“Hi Aidan:

Today went really well. They made two sales of your book, but I talked to about 20 people. I gave them all flyers with your blog address and also asked them to “like” the Muskwa video so that we can start to show the Mexican government how many people actually care about the Vaquita. You might want to ask friends and family to do the same as I do think it will make a big difference. Also, if you haven’t already subscribed to “TheMuskwaclub” YouTube channel, please do so that we can start streaming videos when we get to 100 subscribers. Everyone I talked to couldn’t believe a 13-year-old wrote and illustrated the book. They were also really impressed that you were donating back your proceeds to help save the Vaquita. Really good press for you! Also, I was wearing your “Save the Vaquita” shirt. 🙂

The event today was covered by both our local TV channel and our local paper. Your book should be prominently featured both ways over the next two weeks. So, overall, I would say it was a very successful day!”

The table that Mrs. Whittenbury manned to raise awareness for the Vaquita and my book.

The table that Mrs. Whittenbury manned to raise awareness for the Vaquita and my book.

I cannot thank Mrs. Whittenbury enough for all the help she has given me with the book, and I might not have even gotten it published in the first place if she didn’t refer me to CreateSpace.

Also, today my 9-year-old sister made the clay Vaquitas below. Please feel free to send me pictures of your Vaquita crafts at gl.tamarin123@gmail.com (especially your recipes) so I can post them on this blog. Thanks!

Clay Vaquita

Clay Vaquitas

Point Vicente Interpretive Center

My book is now being sold in the Point Vicente Interpretive Center! The Center, located in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, adjacent to the Point Vincente Lighthouse, is dedicated to teaching its visitors about the history of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. They hosted one of Muskwa’s Vaquita tables on July 6 for National Save the Vaquita Day, and have been a very useful ally in our efforts. They will now be holding my book in their gift shop!

In addition, the gift shop will be having a book signing this Saturday, November 9, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, where you can pick up a pre-signed copy of my book (I obviously cannot be there, considering I am 2,726 miles away). If you live in the area, please stop by to explore the Center and get a copy of the world’s first Vaquita book!

Also, please subscribe to TheMuskwaclub on YouTube. They have some great videos, including The Vanishing Vaquita. You do not need to have a YouTube account to subscribe. If they reach 100 subscribers, they can begin some awesome new projects that will be very entertaining and informative.

CEDO Eco Shop

I just received an awesome package from the CEDO Eco Shop, the gift store of the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans. They have so many amazing items, including a Vaquita section where the profits go to our favorite little cetacean. I bought my sister some nice Vaquita earrings (the only available ones in the world to my understanding) created by local women who live in Puerto Peñasco, one of the 3 towns surrounding the Vaquita’s range. They were only $10, but you can purchase different types at various prices.

Earrings

Another great Vaquita item I bought was the CEDO publication “The Vaquita of the Gulf of California.” The 28-page magazine-style book from 2002 is very interesting and absolutely worth its bargain price of $5. Please consider purchasing some of the incredible items in this gift shop!

The Vaquita of the Gulf of California

Interior

An amazing feature I found in the Eco Shop was their Amazon “portal,” which is a link to the same Amazon page we all know and love, except on this one, when you purchase anything, a portion of the profits goes to CEDO! So if you want to donate to CEDO and the Vaquita, but also really want that pair of shoes you saw on Amazon a few days ago, click the link below and shop away with a lot less guilt. 😉

You can also buy my Vaquita book with that link, and in doing so, donate to at least 3 Vaquita charities at once! You can also buy it here: https://www.createspace.com/4268018. In addition, please read this extremely nice article from the website “Greening the Beige” about my book: http://greeningthebeige.org/gtb/node/1863.

Hey, I almost forgot to ask! How did you find this blog? Was it from a Google search? A link on another website? Or something else? Please submit your answer in the poll in the sidebar, to help me learn how to maximize this blog’s viewing. Thanks from the Vaquita!

Muskwa recognized by White House

I am completely shocked by the email I just received from William Whittenbury, Muskwa Club president:

“THIS JUST IN-

During the preparations for National Save the Vaquita Day this year, we reached out to President Obama, asking him to officially declare July 6 to be the National Save the Vaquita Day. While we did not receive a response on the issue, we felt it was a valuable experience to reach out to the White House.

Well…

Today we received a package addressed to Hannah (our publicity director) as “Ms. Hannah Kim, Director of Public Relations, Muskwa Club.” Guess who it was from! Inside was a card with the compliments of THE PRESIDENT as well as a copy of his official proclamation that made June 2013 World Oceans Month. While the Vaquita Day was not officially declared, the White House took the time to respond and make the connection between the Vaquita and the ocean!

So, in short, Muskwa is now recognized as an organization by the President of the United States!”

I was so excited to read this! It is obviously a huge step for Muskwa and an enormous deal for the Vaquita!

Also, today Cheryl Butner received her birthday present from Diane Glim (both of the American Cetacean Society), and guess what it was? My book! I am so thankful to both of them, and they even are purchasing 20 for the ACS’s Christmas fundraiser!

Update; Book drive to fund expedition

In order to help fund ¡Viva Vaquita!’s photographic expedition scheduled for September 23 – October 16, 2013, they are accepting donations of any marine mammal books. I took this as the perfect opportunity to send Tom Jefferson my book. If you have any marine mammal literature lying around your house, please contact Tom Jefferson (see below). This expedition will be so important for the Vaquita and interesting for Vaquita enthusiasts not only because the scientists will be able to make sure the Vaquita is still alive and hopefully see a bunch, but also because they could get some new photographs that could be very important for Vaquita education in the future. They are also bringing over 1000 Spanish Vaquita coloring books to distribute to the local schools! Here is what ¡Viva Vaquita!’s website says about the book drive:

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MARINE MAMMAL BOOKS AND REPRINTS WANTED

¡Viva Vaquita! is requesting marine mammal books, reprints, monographs, and journals. Literature can be donated or we can purchase sets of books, reprints, and journals. We make the literature available to colleagues working on marine mammals, getting it into hands where it will be actively used, and in the process help to raise funds for research and conservation work on the Vaquita. Donations are tax-deductible, and we may be able to arrange pick-up of large quantities of literature. We are currently collecting literature to help fund our Sept/Oct 2013 expedition to San Felipe, and to conduct education work with local organizations and school groups in Mexico. If you have any literature you would be interested in donating or selling to us, please contact Tom Jefferson at sclymene@aol.com.

Let’s do this!

As I am sure you know by now if you have read some of my previous posts, Mexico made a new law (called the Official Norm) that requires all shrimp gillnets to be switched out with Vaquita-safe trawls within the next 3 years. This is obviously enormous news, so even some of the major groups wrote articles about it, among them the WWF, the organization whose petition caused the law to be created in the first place.

However, few to no articles talk about what happens next.

This law is only affecting shrimp gillnets, because they are the only ones who have a Vaquita-safe substitute so far. Finfishing gillnets pose just as big, if not bigger, of a threat to the Vaquita, so they obviously need to be replaced as well. Currently, there are Vaquita-safe finfishing trawls being developed and tested, so hopefully they prove effective and can be implemented in the Gulf as well within the next couple of years, before it is too late.

The other part of the puzzle with this law is the cooperation of the fishermen and the commitment of the government. We are all hoping that the government really does follow through with this plan and succeeds, and from what I can tell, they mean business with this law. They really do want to save the Vaquita, and I believe they will as long as one factor falls into place: the fishermen.

In the end, it is all up to the fishermen. No matter how strict the government gets, the fishermen will be able to slip through their grasp and fish illegally. That is, if the fishermen would rather risk it all just to fish with gillnets. The law plans to train each fishermen on how to use the trawls and compensate them, meaning there is no real loss for the fishermen that participate in this mandatory law. The trawls are a lot more expensive than gillnets, so the government is going to need to use a lot of their tax dollars to make it happen. If you are a Gulf fishermen, please do the right thing and follow the law. Participate in the Official Norm, and tell every other fishermen to do the same. If you live in Mexico, know that every item you buy with tax could be helping save one of your national icons.

You. Yes, you sitting there reading this post. I want you to help this law succeed too. First off, DO NOT BUY FISH OR SHRIMP FROM THE GULF OF CALIFORNIA CAUGHT WITH GILLNETS! If there is no business, there will be no reason to fish. The next thing to do is sign my new and improved petition to the Mexican president, SEMARNAT, and PROFEPA, which asks them to do the things I wrote about in this post:

http://www.change.org/petitions/save-the-elusive-vaquita

Thank you so much for your help! If you would like to learn everything you can about the Vaquita while also donating to the species, please buy the first ever Vaquita book, written by me, here: https://www.createspace.com/4268018.

Together, we can save the Vaquita. Let’s do this!

First donation details

A huge thanks to everyone who bought my book in its debut month! I am going to send a check of 25% of my earnings to ¡Viva Vaquita! (like I will for every future month), along with additional money going to other Vaquita causes, like the all-new switch-out charity (see post below for link).

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Here are the details of the donation:

Between June 28 and July 30, I sold:

19 books online (15 via https://www.createspace.com/4268018, and 4 via Amazon.com), equaling $117.13

and 21 books in person, equaling $280.00

for a total of $397.13

and an average of $9.93 per book

Total donation to ¡Viva Vaquita!: rounded up to $100

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So for my first month of the book, I will be donation $100 to ¡Viva Vaquita!, leaving $297.13 for other organizations and future endeavors of us and the Muskwa Club.

Now it is time to get ready for next month’s donation! If you haven’t already bought the book, or you want more, please purchase as many as you would like from https://www.createspace.com/4268018. Thank you!

Last chance for this month’s donation

If you buy my book before the midnight of tomorrow, August 1, 25% of the proceeds will go to ¡Viva Vaquita! in the very first monthly donation. Every month, I will be donating 25% of my book’s proceeds to ¡Viva Vaquita!, with the rest going to the ACSLA’s switch-out program and many other Vaquita causes. If you would like to donate to the Vaquita while receiving the first ever book on it, please visit https://www.createspace.com/4268018 and buy as many books as you would like. Thank you so much from the Vaquita! I will give the details of the donation after the deadline.