The 97 Effect

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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

 

Post-a-day Challenge

Please participate in our newest campaign: the Vaquita “Post-a-day Challenge!” We are challenging you to write at least one Vaquita post on social media every day for the entire month of March (already starting tomorrow!). Please let us know if you are participating (via comments, posts, or tweets), and share the banner below to spread the word! Also, if you read this after March 1st, please still participate. It is much better late than never! #SaveTheVaquita!

Post-a-day Challenge

In other news, I am now part of The Dodo, an amazing animal website, where I will occasionally be posting some Vaquita articles: https://www.thedodo.com/community/vlogvaquita.

Also, please add this International Save the Vaquita Day PicBadge to your Facebook profile picture!

William Whittenbury sent me this great picture of my books in the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s gift shop! Please purchase one as a donation to multiple Vaquita charities, such as ¡VIVA Vaquita! and the Muskwa Club.

Book on sale

Also, keep an eye out on Paws on Controls, a really neat activism website that will be featuring an article about the Vaquita and V-log in the near future.

New Vaquita short film!

In October I posted Chris Johnson’s new Vaquita short film. You can read that post here: https://vlogvaquita.com/2013/10/07/new-vaquita-short-film/. The video was taken down for a little while, but was re-launched on December 8 at the Society for Marine Mammology Conference in Dunedin, New Zealand. You can read all about the extraordinary video, and of course watch it, on the Whale Trackers blog (also below): http://www.whaletrackers.com/new-vaquita-short-film/. Please share!

Also, Argent Aqua Jewelry just came out with an update to this pendant: a Vermeil and diamond Vaquita. Quite a holiday gift, and $12.25 from each purchase goes to Vaquita conservation!

Please don’t forget to think about the Vaquita over the holidays. I know it is hard to worry about a porpoise while you are chowing down on a warm apple pie, but the little things really do make a huge difference. For example, you can Adopt-a-Vaquita for someone as a gift, or donate a few dollars from a Christmas card to ¡Viva Vaquita!. Maybe make a Vaquita-conscious holiday meal, buy a beautiful Vaquita item from ¡Viva Vaquita!’s gift store (with the new Memuco collection), or easiest of all, write a Facebook post or Tweet about everyone’s favorite critically endangered porpoise. And please, show us what you did! Leave a comment or shoot me an email at gl.tamarin123@gmail.com saying the wonderful things you came up with this holiday season!

I’ve gone Social!

A while back I wrote a post on the importance of social media to help the Vaquita. You can read it here: https://vlogvaquita.com/2013/04/04/social-media/. Social media is an extremely important tool for us in the battle against the Vaquita’s extinction, as it is the only way to easily spread information across the globe in seconds. So if you are such a big proponent of social media, why don’t you have it yourself? you might ask. And the answer is, “I have no clue.” So now it’s time to put that all to rest. I have created two social media accounts, on Google Plus+ and on Twitter. I will be posting all of my future posts from V-log on Twitter, and very important posts and extras on Google Plus+, so if you follow me on both as well as here on WordPress, you should be able to stay constantly connected to the Vaquita world! Also, please follow ¡Viva Vaquita! on Facebook and Twitter. Click the buttons below (they are also in the sidebar) to begin our journey together!

Follow me on Google Plus+

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.