Happy holidays!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and is taking this time to enjoy their families, friends, hobbies, and the little things in life. It is very important to appreciate the people and things we take for granted, because you never know when they will be gone. I also hope that some of you are still thinking about the Vaquita, and are preparing for what is sure to be one of the most historic years in the history of conservation:

2016: The Year of the Vaquita

Our team firmly believes that 2016 is a make or break year for this species. I don’t know about you, but we sure want it to be a “make” year. If all goes as well or better than it did this year, the Vaquita could very well be on its way to recovery. It has been too many years in a row that we have been wishing for things to get better. Things are finally starting to turn around, but it is still up to us wildlife warriors to make sure things stay on track. We need to sign petitions, make donations, create social media campaigns, and take the world by storm with International Save the Vaquita Day 2016. Let’s keep the pressure on, and never give up the fight.

A very special Christmas gift for someone who truly cares about wildlife is to make a donation to the Vaquita on their behalf. A truly amazing person will genuinely appreciate this gift, even though there is nothing physical to unwrap, although you could get creative and give them something to open, like a stuffed dolphin with a Vaquita donation certificate. (This is a great last-minute gift because there is no shipping involved.)

One of the most exciting developments that occurred this year was Sea Shepherd’s sudden, unprecedented, and impactful involvement in the situation by having a vessel (about to be two vessels!) in the water patrolling the Vaquita refuge, removing nets, photographing Vaquitas, teaming up with the Mexican government, and getting the Mexican Navy to arrest poachers. The first leg of this mission was earlier in 2015, and the second leg just began. They call this campaign Operation Milagro, which is Spanish for miracle. We hope there will be a miracle for the Vaquita! Here are the first four episodes of their new vlog series (click here for the entire playlist, where they post a new video every Tuesday morning), documenting the amazing things they are accomplishing! It’s basically like watching Whale Wars, but much more peaceful! Click here to support Operation Milagro II: http://www.seashepherd.org/milagro2/

The best news of the year is probably the fact that almost no gillnets have been found in the Vaquita’s refuge since enforcement of the 2-year ban began. Because of this, at the very recent 21st biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in San Francisco (MarMam15), the Mexican government and its Vaquita recovery team was awarded with the first-ever International Conservation Merit Prize. Senator Rafael Pacchiano Alamán received a standing ovation from a huge room of marine mammal scientists and enthusiasts after his optimistic acceptance speech. Mexico must really feel motivated to continue with this tremendous progress, especially now that all eyes are on them.

Take a look at these two sonar readings of fishing boats in the Vaquita refuge, one from the 2008 survey, and one from this year’s. This is wonderful news (photo via Twitter courtesy of Emily McParland from the MarMam15 conference):

Sonar readings

The new issue of the Journal of Marine Animals and Their Ecology just came out, and this one is exclusively about the Vaquita! This is a great issue, with many worthy reads. William Whittenbury and I wrote an article in this issue about why everyone should care about the Vaquita’s survival. Check it out!

http://oers.ca/journal/volume8/issue1/issue.pdf

And finally, please sign the new Defenders of Wildlife Vaquita petition asking the U.S. government to eliminate the illegal smuggling of Totoaba swim bladders through the United States: http://www.defenders.org/content/save-vaquita-0

I will sign off for the year (unless there is a huge announcement or breaking news in the next week) with a throwback to 2011. Exactly 4 years ago, I wrote this poem as a tribute to the classic work “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clark Moore. It was one of my first poems on this blog, so don’t be too critical.

See you in 2016 for The Year of the Vaquita, and have a wonderful V-mas!

‘Twas the night before V-mas,

And all through the pod

Vaquita were gossiping,

With whispers and nods.

The fish were packed in the coral with care,

In hopes that St. Blue Whale would soon be there.

The calves all rested on the water’s surface,

But they couldn’t sleep because they were nervous.

The parents set out the croakers and milk,

And lay on their seabeds, softer than silk.

When up on the surface arose such a splash

That sounded like Narwhals in heated clash.

Papa V swam to the top like a jet.

And guess who was there? Guess whom he met?

St. Blue Whale, floating with a smirk.

Warm eyes and a smile, he couldn’t be a jerk.

He had eight antsy dolphins pulling his reins,

And a sack full of treats like seaweed canes.

He left some presents under the Christmas Reef,

And called to his dolphins, “Now Swimmer, now Spinner, now Breacher and Sleef,

On Logger, on Ringer, on Pinger and Turf!”

And St. Whale and his pod swam off in the surf.

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#GivingTuesday

Today is #GivingTuesday! This is a day dedicated to donating to charities and other good causes in the holiday spirit. We spend a lot of time buying things this time of year, but how about giving?

Luckily, there is a way to do both! I have extended the #ISTVD2016 t-shirt campaign by 3 more days because the Muskwa Club has stepped up and will be handling international orders! That means if you live outside the U.S., you can now get a shirt! Email me at <gl.tamarin123@gmail.com> with the amount and sizes of the t-shirts you want.

And if you live in the U.S., you have a second chance to get your shirts! Remember, all profits go to the Muskwa Club, Inc. and VIVA Vaquita’s International Save the Vaquita Day 2016 efforts! Thank you from the Vaquita!

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

gtvaquita

WWF’s successes of 2013

As the year draws to a close, WWF takes a look back on the wonderful year of 2013 in their “15 WWF Success Stories of 2013.” Of course, the biggest Vaquita news in recent memory took place this June in the form of the Official Norm law, a new regulation that guarantees that all shrimp gillnets will be phased into Vaquita-safe trawls within the next 3 years! The Vaquita is featured at number 6 on the list because it was WWF’s petition (which garnered over 38,000 signatures from 127 countries) that caused the law in the first place. We cannot give enough thanks to WWF and everyone else that has helped the Vaquita so far in its eventful, 55-year history with us (the Vaquita was discovered in 1958). Let’s have a toast to a great 2014 for the Vaquita!

My sister and I came up with a fun holiday activity to find out your Vaquita name! For example, my name is Aidan and I was born in March, so my Vaquita name would be, “Vita Marina.” Have fun and please share!

What's your Vaquita name?

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!

Do your part

Today, Saturday, July 6, is National Save the Vaquita Day. If there was ever a day to help the Vaquita, today’s the day. I am asking you to do your part to save the Vaquita, even if you only do something seemingly miniscule. For example, today I am riding my bike around my neighborhood, putting Vaquita flyers in people’s mailboxes (I couldn’t man the Virginia table due to travel reasons). To do your part today, you could attend a Vaquita table (click here for a list), donate through ¡Viva Vaquita!’s website, buy my book, post a status update about the Vaquita on a social network, fill out this survey with the Vaquita’s information and range (the northern Gulf of California, Mexico), ride your bike around your neighborhood with the printable, quarter-sheet flyers below, make a pledge to have a DVD (Daily Vaquita Duty), or any combination of those. I would love to hear your ideas about how you can help the Vaquita today and every other day, so please leave what you did today in the comments. Thank you so much for your participation in this vital new holiday.

Vaquita Flyers

An A-Z of Weird and Wonderful Wildlife from Around the World

Three things:

First, I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays.

Second, check this article about saving cetaceans from a different perspective.

And third, I was browsing through Google images when I found this really cool Vaquita painting. I clicked on it and I came upon this awesome website called Reuben is My Middle Name. The creator, Daniel Young, has this book, An A-Z of Weird and Wonderful Wildlife from Around the World, which has the Vaquita as V! His illustrations have an Eric Carle feel with tons of mystery and the feeling that you are inside the painting. I love his work.

I have been meaning to post pictures of all of the Vaquita projects/drawings my siblings and I have done in the past year, so look out for those soon!

CEDO 2012

In recognition of the extremely critical situation of the Vaquita, CEDO is directing most of its 2012 fundraising efforts to the protection of this critically endangered species. Any purchases in the coming year will support local fishermen’s and CEDO’s cooperative efforts at reducing by-catch in the Northern Gulf, in strengthening public and social policies and practices to protect the Vaquita’s habitat, and in educating the public on this little porpoise. New research on the Vaquita will be published onto CEDO’s website soon: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Happy-Holidays-from-CEDO.html?soid=1103804400006&aid=0kt8vw91kEA