Making a difference

If one person can make a difference, just imagine what a group can accomplish.

When I was very young, I was taught that we are all going to die, and life is our short window of opportunity to change the world.

Many people go through life having a fun childhood, getting a good job, raising a wonderful family, and then die content. This is the glorified image of a successful life. These people are happy, and they give their children the opportunity to have a happy, successful life as well.

However, these are not the people that are remembered for years after their death. Albert Einstein did not settle for this “successful” life, and he is one of the most well-known people in history; his name is synonymous with ‘genius.’ He might not have been as happy as an ordinary person, but he definitely affected the world more than most. He recognized his gifts and used his 76 years on this planet to accomplish incredible things. Without Einstein, who knows what our world would be like?

But you don’t need to completely abandon a normal life to be remembered…

Rachel Carson was an average marine biologist and writer. She wasn’t a genius; she wasn’t in a lab all day. She was simply conducting research projects with her colleagues and writing papers. But one day in 1957, she heard about the USDA’s fire ant eradication program, where pesticides like DDT were sprayed over large areas of land. She believed these chemicals were causing major environmental issues, many of which she witnessed firsthand. So over the next 4 years, she set out on a mission to find and share these issues with the world.

On September 27, 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, arguably the most important work of conservation writing ever created. This book changed the way we look at our effects on the natural world, and spawned the environmental movement itself.

Photographer Art Wolfe shows just how much of a difference she made:

http://artwolfe.com/2015/01/26/can-one-person-really-make-difference/

Rachel Carson remains my biggest inspiration, and without her, I have no doubts that I would not be doing what I am today. People like Einstein and Carson are proof that one person can make a difference in the world. Personally, I know I will not be satisfied with my life if I don’t have a lasting positive effect on this planet, specifically for the Vaquita. Fortunately for me, I am not alone in my desire to save this little porpoise. Now, more than ever before, we have a huge army of passionate individuals who will not let the few remaining Vaquitas slip away. If we all can show the same initiative, determination, and innovativeness of people like Rachel Carson, the Vaquita will be one lucky porpoise.

One person that is making a difference for the Vaquita in a unique way is Guillermo Munro Colosio, more commonly known as Memuco. He combines his incredible artistic skills with his compassion for nature to portray messages in an extremely compelling way. Some great examples are his Vaquita murals in Puerto Peñasco, one of the three fishing villages surrounding the Vaquita. He also creates infographics for endangered species, as well as paintings. He is a huge Vaquita warrior, and we love him and his work.

http://www.memuco.net/

Memuco and a mural he painted a few years ago in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco and a mural he painted a few years ago in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco's brand new mural in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco’s brand new mural in Puerto Peñasco

Memuco's beautiful new Vaquita painting

Memuco’s beautiful new Vaquita painting

To put the Vaquita’s current situation into perspective, imagine this:

You have a jigsaw puzzle. The picture on the box is simple and beautiful. However, when you open it up, the pieces are tiny and there are way more you thought. And you only have half an hour to complete it.

Not good, right? The Vaquita’s situation appears simple (the picture on the box): remove all gillnets. However, there are countless tiny pieces to the puzzle (fishermen, money, wildlife trafficking, government, etc.), and time is running out. There could be 86 Vaquitas left, and that could even be an overestimate. The point is, we are so close to the point of no return, that every little action has major consequences. Currently, there is a harmful algal bloom, called a red tide, going on in the Vaquita’s range. This may seem like bad news, and it could possibly be toxic to the Vaquita, but there is a huge upside: all fishing operations are on pause due to the danger of consuming contaminated sea food. So basically, it is like a ban that doesn’t even need enforcement. However, the red tide will fade away sooner or later, and the fishermen will be back on the water.

86

Luckily, strides have been made in the form of the new 2-year ban, which at least gives us a law to enforce starting in March. However, we still need to keep the pressure on the Mexican government to follow through with the ban. There need to be major short-term actions carried out immediately, and then we can worry about the long term. The most positive news is that the Mexican government says they are planning on using high-tech aerial drones to monitor the Vaquita’s range for any illegal fishing, which will relay the information back to enforcement so they can stop the illegal activity before it is too late. With the recent possible extinction of the Chinese Bahaba, many wealthy Chinese people have turned their attention to Mexico’s Totoaba, a very similar fish, for their “medical” needs. As we know, this recent increased (yet illegal) demand for Totoaba has left the poor Vaquita in the crossfire. Two more species are on their way to extinction mainly because of some ridiculous traditions. This demand needs to end, or else even strong enforcement on the water may not be enough to stop relentless poachers and cartels from killing both species, albeit one accidentally. Andrew Wright takes a closer look:

http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=18084

This will be a historical next few months for everyone in the Vaquita world. Thankfully, we don’t have to be helpless witnesses to all this. Don’t buy any seafood from the Gulf of California, Mexico, and make sure your local Chinese food restaurants aren’t selling Totoaba swim bladder soup. Keep signing the petitions to keep the pressure on, and I promise you, we really can do this.

Vaquita gift ideas

With the holidays right around the corner, now’s the time to start buying gifts for your loved ones. Money is tight these days, so gifts where some the proceeds go to a good cause is a great deal. Luckily for you, there are many such gifts that are related to the Vaquita! Let’s take a look.

The CEDO Eco Shop is a wonderful place to buy awesome gifts for the holiday season. From Vaquita t-shirts to booklets, to even a special link to Amazon that gives a portion of any purchase to CEDO, they have it all.

CEDO works extensively with the Vaquita, so it is one of the best charities to donate to.

Another wonderful holiday gift for that special someone would be CEDO wine, complete with one of six creatures of the Gulf on the label (of course including the Vaquita). And a portion of the proceeds goes to CEDO!

http://www.benefitwines.com/CEDO-Intercultural_c_1826.html

The VIVA Vaquita La Tienda has some wonderful Vaquita-specific items, with a new collection by Memuco: http://www.printfection.com/vivavaquita/NEW–memuco-vaquita-items/_s_583346

A perfect gift is the Adopt-a-Vaquita kit from Save the Whales. For $25 you get:

  • An 8 x 10 glossy color photograph of a Vaquita in the wild
  • Adopt-a-Vaquita certificate personalized to your specifications
  • 4 page color newsletter about Vaquita
  • A letter to the United Nations for your signature
  • Save The Whales window sticker
  • VIVA Vaquita window sticker
  • A Vaquita dog tag necklace (suitable for all ages and both sexes)

With the second edition of the world’s only Vaquita book coming in the near future, you might want to keep it in mind: https://www.createspace.com/4268018

And my final suggestion is a Save the Vaquita! t-shirt from the Muskwa Club’s campaign, with 100% of the proceeds going to this non-profit. Remember, if 34 t-shirts are not bought, none will not be printed. So please, support a great cause and look stylish while you do it: https://www.booster.com/savethevaquita97

Memuco exhibition

If you are near Puerto Peñasco, Mexico this month, please check out Memuco‘s art exhibition on October 18 (full moon). Here is a beautiful poster for the event. I also believe he will be in Mexico for the whole month of October and the Day of the Dead on November 1 and 2. Also, I still cannot thank him enough for illustrating my book‘s cover!

Memuco exhibition

The book is ready

After a year of writing, illustrating, and stressing out, my informational book, “The Vaquita: The Biology of an Endangered Porpoise,” is finally available! The book costs $12.95, with 100% of profits going to Vaquita research, education, and conservation (25% goes directly to ¡Viva Vaquita!). The book was written by me, illustrated by my brother, sister, and me, edited by Vaquita expert Dr. Thomas A. Jefferson (who also provided the back cover image), and the beautiful cover you can see below was by amazing artist Memuco. You can buy it here: https://www.createspace.com/4268018, and please distribute this link via social media. Buying one or more is a great way to donate while receiving the first ever Vaquita book! It will also be available on Amazon and Amazon Europe within the next week. Thank you so much for supporting me and more importantly, the Vaquita.

Cover

Flyer

Using one of the beautiful paintings that Memuco made for the cover of my book, I created a flyer for my World Oceans Day table. Please share this on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to attract as many people as you can to this awesome event. Unfortunately, the National Aquarium in Baltimore will not be able to host a table on July 6, so I will not be there on National Save the Vaquita Day. I look forward to possibly working with them in the future, though.

WOD Poster

Memuco is awesome

Memuco is, to put it mildly, awesome. He agreed to illustrate the cover of my book a while ago, and yesterday he sent me the finished products. He didn’t just do one, he did four. All four are the greatest Vaquita paintings I have ever seen. It was so hard to pick one for the cover, but I finally chose a beautiful painting of a mother and calf. But I will definitely use all of them for various purposes in the future. I don’t want to post them yet due to copyright reasons, but take my word for it that they are unbelievable. The book should be published by the end of the summer.