Guilt

Alright.

I want you to go deep into your memory.

Back to when you were a kid.

When the world was simpler,

Yet more wondrous.

Now travel to the worst memory of your life.

Maybe the day you broke your leg and ruined your summer.

Or maybe someone died.

Like a friend.

Or a family member.

Someone you loved.

Think about all the tears and the pain.

How their loss changed your life.

How dearly you missed them.

How you wish you go back in time and be with them.

How you hoped it wasn’t real.

The Vaquita is a family member.

A brother.

A sister.

A father.

A mother.

Except this family member,

You can save.

If the Vaquita goes extinct,

You may not even know.

You could find out years later.

How guilty would you feel?

Did you ever feel so guilty,

Because you knew that something was your fault,

But someone else was punished.

Minorly or majorly.

Extinction is not minor.

Extinction means ‘to extinguish.’

Forever.

In a way,

Losing the Vaquita is worse than losing a loved one.

Because we completely control the fate of the Vaquita.

We are holding the entire species in our hands.

Like a fragile egg.

We can manipulate its success.

Not individually,

But as a group,

A whole,

We can save the Vaquita.

Because if we don’t,

The guilt will be overwhelming.

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Why?

You might ask, “Why do I help the Vaquita?”

And my answer is, “Why wouldn’t I?”

I cannot force myself to think of a world without Vaquita.

They have helped shape much of my young life, from the early online research to now.

They have inspired me to do things I never thought were possible—or had the courage to do.

They have given me the confidence to stand up and make a difference in this dying world.

They have presented me with endless ideas for poems, books, and artwork.

They have saved me with the knowledge that I am saving them, and they still have a chance.

The Vaquita has given me so much, and now it is my turn to give back to them.

I know the day the Vaquita dies will make me want to do the same.

It is this fear of loss that has pushed me for years to make a change.

And you may ask, “Why save the Vaquita?”

And my answer will always be, “Why not?”

Lifeless

The boat rocked with every rolling current

As I slowly fed my net into the swirling aqua sea.

I watched as the floats drifted off,

Knowing the next time I would touch them,

I would be hauling hundreds of shrimp onto this deck.

I leaned against the cabin window,

Arms crossed.

I thought of my beautiful family:

My wife and son.

This was for them.

A large mob of gulls swarmed around the boat:

There must have been something in the water.

Spitting tobacco overboard, I began to pull in the net.

Inch by inch,

Foot by foot.

It was too late.

She was already gone.

A dead Vaquita lay mangled in the mesh,

Lifeless and dripping in blood from the lacerations.

I sat down on the deck and began to cry.

Shock

Vaquita actually don’t drown when they get entangled in gillnets. Despite being able to hold their breath for long periods of time, they quickly go into a state of shock and their heart stops usually before they can escape. This is a natural, but very unfortunate, reaction that eliminates the possibility of catch-and-release in gillnet bycatch.

Conquered by net

A Vaquita inhales the ripe sea air,

Causing a scare.

After a pause he rolls into the deep.

Downward he creeps.

Through the kelp and grass he winds to and fro,

Swiftly he goes.

He locates and chases a huge plump grunt.

He’s on the hunt.

He catches the fish and travels due west;

He does not rest.

Caught in a trap, he whines, wiggles, and frets.

Conquered by net, conquered by net.

Death

Fourth and final in a 4-part series: Death

As you know, every great thing must end.

Do not dread death, just savor time you spend

With family and friends, and even foes.

Life is more powerful than anyone knows,

But death ends life much faster than a cheetah.

How does this relate? Let’s meet our Vaquita.

He loves his life, frolicking with loved ones.

He lives with parents, daughters, and their sons.

La Vaquita is living his life at its best,

Everything’s perfect, this Vaquita is blessed.

Think about something while he thinks about fish:

There must be a reason this is called what it is.

Ok, fine, I’ll go back to the story.

While the pod is living in glory,

They dive and blow and breach and float.

But just ’round the corner approaches a boat.

Our little Vaquita sees a school of fish,

He dashes towards the boat, that he didn’t I wish.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, he gets caught in the net,

He rolls frantically and starts to fret.

His heart stops.

He’s gone.

But do not dread death, here’s what some say:

Life after death is just another day.

This may be true for some forms of life,

But not so with the Vaquita’s strife.

The Gulf without the Vaquita is like a forest without moss.

When one Vaquita dies, the entire species may be lost.

Maturity

Third in a 4-part series: Maturity

Bubbles stream down his graceful form.

The sea surrounds him, rich and warm.

He playfully darts through the silky water,

He finds a mate and they have a daughter.

They all live together with his brother and mom.

The pod’s noise meets that of a bomb.

Their lives are all perfect, they whistle nice songs.

Nothing. Yes, nothing could ever go wrong.