The big 3

According to leading Vaquita researcher Dr. Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, there are 3 initiatives that we members of the general public can participate in to legitimately make a difference in the Vaquita’s situation. They are:

1. Raise awareness
2. Convince restaurants to only buy their shrimp from safe sources
3. Raise money towards the switch-out program

The first one has so many different levels to it. This blog is an example of the online branch of public awareness, as is a Vaquita-related Facebook post. Another branch is face-to-face awareness, such as the tables manned by the Muskwa Club and ¡Viva Vaquita!, or a Vaquita speech at an event. Some other things that can raise awareness are books (mine is the only one so far), pamphlets, or public service announcements (especially on the radio). The online branch is the easiest and most effective, because you can instantly send information around the world with the click of a button. The hard part is getting the information to a large enough audience with the information being worthwhile enough that they will, in turn, pass it around to other people. Luckily, the Vaquita is a very worthwhile cause. So all you need to do is start a chain of posts about it, and those very posts could end up being read by every person on earth.

The second one is only for the dedicated Vaquita conservationist. It would require quite a bit of research and getting out of the house. For example, the next time you go to Red Lobster, ask your waiter where the shrimp comes from. If they don’t know, ask to speak with the manager. I honestly have never seen shrimp that was not farm-raised somewhere in Asia, but I always make sure. Always. Even though there is much debate as to how/where shrimp should be caught for maximum sustainability, anything other than gillnet-caught in the Gulf of California is fine from a Vaquita standpoint. It is most important to check restaurants and grocery stores for Vaquita-unsafe shrimp if you live near Mexico, in places like California and Arizona. There are many sites, including http://vaquita.tv/, that go into detail about sustainable seafood. After all, gillnet fishing is the only thing wiping out the Vaquita. Why not make sure that you aren’t supporting it?

The third and final initiative is raising money towards the switch-out program. The Muskwa Club and the American Cetacean Society Los Angeles Chapter have teamed up to create the only charity that sends money directly to the switch-out program, and nothing else. This is vital because the switch-out program is believed to be the best chance for the Vaquita, because it is unreasonable to think that the fishermen will just give up fishing for some unknown business that could get them nowhere financially. The switch-out is a best of both worlds situation, because the fishermen still can fish with the new nets that have proven to be as or more effective than gillnets, while the Vaquitas are put in little to no danger whatsoever. To donate to the new charity, please write a check to P.O. Box 1208, San Pedro, CA 90733-1208 and write Vaquita on the memo line. Yes, I know it is a cliché, but every dollar really does count. But the Muskwa Club has bigger plans. We are attempting to contact eco-conscious celebrities and billionaires as potential funding sources. Leonardo DiCaprio and Pierce Brosnan are both part of huge efforts to save tigers and whales, so why not the Vaquita? Warren Buffett just donated $2.6 billion to charity. Yes, you read that correctly. The entire switch-out program can be funded with, at most, $180 million. I am not necessarily saying we are going to get $180 million from Mr. Buffett, but it is exciting to think about what one human can do. He can literally save a species, in theory.

Maybe I will start playing the lottery.

Muskwa’s National Save the Vaquita Day

The Muskwa Club has put up the first episode of their series of shadow puppet videos. You can watch it below. Also, their website is now www.muskwaclub.org.

Attention Muskwa Club members: the deadline for ordering a Vaquita t-shirt is Tuesday, May 7 at 11:59 pm, though I may extend the deadline slightly. Order it here: http://www.customink.com/signup/2nvhf7s2.

I have made a lot of progress on my book, including finishing all text, almost finishing all the illustrations, and I have front and back cover images (courtesy of Memuco and Tom Jefferson). I might even get NOAA or The Cousteau Society to pay for printing by sponsoring it! I hope to send it off to publishing this month.

Immense progress has been made with Muskwa’s National Save the Vaquita Day, about which they are contacting the president to make it an official day, July 6th. They have many, many aquariums participating in or considering participating in the event, with the Waikiki and Cabrillo Aquariums being confirmed for that day. Also, there is a chance I will be manning a table at the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts on June 9 for World Oceans Day, and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland on July 6 for National Save the Vaquita Day, if they confirm their participation in the event.

The Muskwa Club has a huge range of contacts in every imaginable niche, which is helping make all of this possible. They will be selling my book on July 6 at many of their tables, (¡Viva Vaquita! will be doing the same), and the Cabrillo Aquarium has even offered to sell the book at their gift shop! The Muskwa Club has many projects that they are keeping under wraps for now, but believe me, they are awesome! Also, I am now writing a column for the Muskwa Club’s monthly newsletter.

In other news, Jonathan answered the riddle correctly! Q: What is a Vaquita’s favorite model of computer? A: Microsoft Surface.

Mahalo Mondays

Tomorrow, Monday the 29th, is the last day to join ¡Viva Vaquita! at Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room in Monterey, California for Mahalo Mondays, where 10% of all sales go to ¡Viva Vaquita!. Dinner starts at 4 pm.

Please email Endangered Species Chocolate at info@chocolatebar.com and ask them to make a Vaquita bar. It would be an enormous deal for such a big company to advertise the Vaquita!

Also, you probably noticed that I completely changed how my blog looks. I personally like it better now. How do you feel about it?

And, for the 100th News Update, I would like to end with a riddle. Submit your answers in the comments.

What is a Vaquita’s favorite model of computer?

Whalefest

Join ¡Viva Vaquita! at Whalefest on Saturday, January 21 from 9 am-5 pm at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, California! They will be giving a special lecture about the Vaquita and showing the documentary “Vaquita: Last Chance for the Desert Porpoise”. Be sure to stop by the ¡Viva Vaquita!/American Cetacean Society Monterey Bay Chapter and Save The Whales booths to learn even more about the Vaquita! More information can be found at the link below. Even though I can’t attend (ahhh, the cost of traveling), anyone near or in Cali should head over for a great experience!

http://museumofmonterey.org/PDFs/Whalefestflyer.12.22.11.pdf