Vaquita Blanket Challenge

TAKE THE VAQUITA BLANKET CHALLENGE AND NOMINATE YOUR FRIENDS TO DO THE SAME!
The Vaquita porpoise is the world’s most endangered marine mammal with only 97 left in existence. They live in only in a small area within the Sea of Cortez between Baja and mainland Mexico. They drown when caught in gill nets set for shrimp or by poachers trying to capture another endangered fish, the Totoaba for their swim bladders considered a delicacy in Chinese restaurants. The Vaquita can be saved if the poachers are stopped and the fisherman switch to the vaquita safe trawl nets provided for them by the Mexican government. Yet, with most people unaware of the problem, there is reluctance to take these steps in time! Help us save the Vaquita by taking the Vaquita Blanket Challenge, posting about it and nominating your friends to do so as well. If we can raise awareness of this issue, we will have a chance to save a species! Let’s work together to do it!
How to Take the Vaquita Blanket Challenge:
Get two twin bed size blankets. Lay on the first blanket with your feet crossed at the ankles like a Vaquita tail and your arms behind your back with your hands clasped at the small of your back. Have someone wrap you tightly (roll you up in) the first blanket and then the opposite way in the second blanket. Now, have someone time you trying to get out without rolling over, without standing up and with minimal use of your arms. Can you get out in 97 seconds? Post your time along with this message (and optionally a video or picture of you taking the challenge) on social media, email it to your friends, and nominate 3 other friends to do so as well. Did you feel momentarily trapped like a Vaquita might feel in a net? If you’ve taken the challenge, you are eligible to buy and wear the Vaquita Blanket Challenge T-shirt at: http://www.booster.com/vaquitablanketchallenge. You can also make a donation toward the Muskwa Club’s efforts to save the Vaquita. Wear your shirt with pride to help spread the word about the Vaquita before it’s too late!
Front
Back

 

T-shirts and more

Hurry up! There are only a few hours left to buy an awesome Save the Whales/VIVA Vaquita t-shirt with the profits going to the Vaquita!

https://www.booster.com/vivavaquita

For the entire month of April, VIVA Vaquita will be the recipient of Mahalo Mondays at Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room in Monterey, California, so please eat and/or drink there on Mondays in April. 10% of Hula’s sales from 4:00 pm until closing on Mondays will go to VIVA Vaquita this April!

TakePart and WWF have teamed up to create a March Madness-like bracket for endangered animals! Please vote on the matchups and TakePart will donate up to $2,500 to WWF! The World Wildlife Fund is one of the biggest Vaquita supporters, so it really is important that you vote once a day until April 9!

http://www.takepart.com/animalbracket

Also, my book will soon be for sale in the Hau’ula Gift Shop on the Windward side of Oahu, Hawaii, in the Ching Jong Leong store building in Punaluu. The gift shop is run by Fawwaz Jubran, and is mentioned in this article: http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/Hawaii-Business/January-2008/Roadside-Attraction/.

If you are in the area, please join the Muskwa Club at their Vaquita table during the Point Vicente Interpretive Center’s ‘Whale of a Day’ on April 5 from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm! The event promises to be informative, exciting, and simply a whale of a time. 😉

Finally, thanks to everyone who participated in the Post-a-day Challenge. I hope that many people learned about the Vaquita this month, but let’s not stop! Keep sharing the Vaquita love!

Thanks

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.

¡VIVA Vaquita!

*The Muskwa Club has also accepted their offer: http://vivavaquita.org/aboutus.html!

It all started on August 8th, 2010, when I was 10 years old. At the time, I had a really strong fascination with Sperm Whales. I was looking for a way to symbolically adopt one, which led me to the Save the Whales website. In the top right corner of the page, I noticed a picture of a little gray porpoise that said “Help Save the Vaquita!!! The World’s Most-Endangered Cetacean.” I had heard of the Vaquita before from one of my marine mammal field guides, and I remember loving how they looked. But I had no idea they were endangered. I started to read about this mysterious creature called the Vaquita. Something about it evoked an emotion that I had rarely felt before. A mix of fear, curiosity, vulnerability, sadness, and determination. I could not believe it was so rare, and that is was still decreasing. How could this be happening? I knew that I had to help it.

I scrolled down and clicked on the link to ¡VIVA Vaquita!, where I was captivated even more. I entered this into the contact box, “How much money is usually donated? Is $30 good? And can I learn more about vaquitas? Thanks!” A few days later, I received a package from Dr. Thomas Jefferson, containing a bunch of things to help me learn about the Vaquita, such as some brochures and a magazine that focused on them. I was hooked. A little over a year later, on September 27th, 2011, I started the website that you are reading this post on. I have always been obsessed with ¡VIVA Vaquita! and look up to them like a celebrity, which they are, in my eyes.

They are the world’s leading Vaquita conservation group, and their work is unparalleled in the activism community. That is why their email to me last night completely shocked me. They invited V-log to become an official member of ¡VIVA Vaquita! I hope our new partnership will create some amazing new opportunities, and I will be sure to keep everyone updated. I would like to thank ¡VIVA Vaquita! again for continuous inspiration and for asking me to join their incredible organization!

In other news, the Muskwa Club will have some big announcements coming within the next few months, so stay tuned.

VIVA Vaquita

American Cetacean Society

The American Cetacean Society is one of the leaders in Vaquita conservation. Founded in 1967 and comprised of 7 chapters and a Student Coalition, they are the world’s first organization dedicated to saving whales. Here are the links to the chapters:

Los Angeles
Monterey Bay
Orange County
Puget Sound
San Diego
San Francisco Bay
Oregon
Student Coalition

The Monterey Bay Chapter was one of the 3 founding members of ¡Viva Vaquita!, and the Los Angeles Chapter has been an extremely helpful ally to the Muskwa Club. The American Cetacean Society has two publications, the quarterly newsletter, Spyhopper, and the biannual, theme-specific Whalewatcher. In 2010 they published a Whalewatcher about porpoises, especially the Vaquita. The two most recent Spyhoppers also featured amazing articles about the Vaquita:

Viva Vaquita by Ayla Glim, Pages 6-8: http://acsonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/SpyhopperQtr2-2013-FINAL_2.pdf

Vaquita, Net Gains and Net Losses by Barbara Taylor, Pages 1-5: http://acsonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Spyhopper-Nov.-2013.pdf

The November issue shocked me with these few paragraphs!

“For the first time since I’ve been working with Vaquita there are some concrete steps that people from outside Mexico can do (or will be able to soon), and here are three things you can do to help:

1. Support Vaquita-safe seafood products
Fishermen are more likely to convert to Vaquita-friendly fishing gear if there is market incentive to do so. WWF Mexico (http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/wwf_offices/mexico/?208988/Mexico-approves-measure-to-save-worlds-rarestmarine-mammal) with funds from the US Marine Mammal Commission and several private foundations are planning a series of events to promote Vaquita-safe seafood. The hope is that this will do for Vaquita what ‘dolphin-safe’ labeling on cans of tuna did for millions of dolphins in the eastern Pacific. These events will feature top chefs serving Vaquita-safe shrimp alongside Vaquita wine. The idea is to connect the fishermen who are sustainably harvesting seafood with outlets that cater to conscientious consumers, and rewarding those fishermen with a bit higher price for their value-added product. The events will need planning, labor, and folks to enjoy the food.

2. Establish and support grassroots education and fund-raising campaigns
There is a need for educating the public about Vaquita. Last year saw the first “Save the Vaquita Day” initiated by a grassroots effort by elementary, middle and high school students of the Muskwa Club founded in Long Beach, California https://sites.google.com/site/muskwaclub/ with the support from several ACS chapters. The Muskwa Club even made a nice video, which can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zj3T724txo4. This tri-coastal campaign reached thousands of people through Vaquita events and we can hope that this effort grows. These events and future plans can be seen on the website above and in the ACSLA Chapter report. The group ¡Viva Vaquita! (http://www.vivavaquita.org/) also continues to attend events and do programs in schools to raise awareness, and has just distributed educational brochures and coloring books to schools near the fishing port of San Felipe, Mexico. A kindergarten class at Frances Parker School in San Diego adopted Vaquita as their special project and raised funds. The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/), can accept funds by sending checks to Frances Gulland at their address with a note that the funds are for saving Vaquita. A few times a year, TMMC will transfer those funds to support WWF-Mexico projects aimed at training shrimp fishermen in the northern Gulf how to use alternative gear. Vaquita.tv continues to be an excellent source of on-line information and a great place to send people who want to learn more about Vaquita and the people’s needs in the northern Gulf.

3. Stay informed; stay involved
The other important role for cetacean fans is to be avid (even pesky!) consumers and purveyors of Vaquita information. Both the IUCN and the Society for Marine Mammalogy have repeatedly written letters to the Mexican government – but letters from other concerned citizens and organizations are needed to keep this issue on the front burner in Mexico. Vaquita needs an informed fan base to keep its status in the spotlight, to make clear that there is international interest in fate of this hapless porpoise, and that the eyes of the world are on Mexico over this issue. An inspirational example of citizen involvement is Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky, a 13-year old boy from Pennsylvania who has just written a book and maintains a blog https://vlogvaquita.com/ on Vaquita conservation!”

The Muskwa Club and I are very excited and grateful to see these new progressions (and the shout outs!), as well as all of the work the ACS has done in its legendary history. Please consider donating to them: http://acsonline.org/support-acs/donate-online/, as well as the ACSLA’s Vaquita switch-out fund by sending a check to P.O. Box 1208, San Pedro, CA 90733-1208. It is very important that you write “Vaquita” on the memo line for it to go to the switch-out.

Point Vicente Interpretive Center

My book is now being sold in the Point Vicente Interpretive Center! The Center, located in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, adjacent to the Point Vincente Lighthouse, is dedicated to teaching its visitors about the history of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. They hosted one of Muskwa’s Vaquita tables on July 6 for National Save the Vaquita Day, and have been a very useful ally in our efforts. They will now be holding my book in their gift shop!

In addition, the gift shop will be having a book signing this Saturday, November 9, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, where you can pick up a pre-signed copy of my book (I obviously cannot be there, considering I am 2,726 miles away). If you live in the area, please stop by to explore the Center and get a copy of the world’s first Vaquita book!

Also, please subscribe to TheMuskwaclub on YouTube. They have some great videos, including The Vanishing Vaquita. You do not need to have a YouTube account to subscribe. If they reach 100 subscribers, they can begin some awesome new projects that will be very entertaining and informative.

Increasing awareness

Today I finished reading the North American Conservation Action Plan (NACAP) for the Vaquita. You can read it online here: http://www.cec.org/Storage/62/5476_Vaquita-NACAP.pdf (the English section starts on page 48).

It is a very in-depth paper from 2008 with extremely important and relevant information. It reaches a similar conclusion to many other papers in that the fishermen are willing to help the Vaquita as long as they do not lose their income for it and their families can still be sustained. Basically the entire world wants to help the Vaquita, including the fishermen, so really all that needs to be done is our governments work together to complete all of the goals required to save it before time runs out.

I was particularly interested in the matrix provided on pages 76-79 that charts all of the priorities for saving the Vaquita, as of 2007, according to the CEC. Many of the things listed have already been done, which is promising. Below is the section for increasing awareness, with the first box containing the action, the second showing the priority (more ! = more important), and the third showing the time frame. I am really excited to try to help make these things happen, and I am sure the Muskwa Club will play a crucial role in these endeavors. All of these things are past their due date, but that does not mean they shouldn’t be done. Earlier in the paper it states, “The [conservation] sector also stressed the value of having information flow smoothly among the various sectors [fishing, aquaculture, tourism, and conservation] so that problems can be identified and solutions sought in a timely, efficient manner.” This idea is extremely similar to the Muskwa Club’s idea of the Vaquita Preservation Alliance, which I will write about once the details are figured out after the Muskwa Club – American Cetacean Society Los Angeles meeting on October 25.

(Click the chart if the words are too small.)

Increasing awareness

Muskwa recognized by White House

I am completely shocked by the email I just received from William Whittenbury, Muskwa Club president:

“THIS JUST IN-

During the preparations for National Save the Vaquita Day this year, we reached out to President Obama, asking him to officially declare July 6 to be the National Save the Vaquita Day. While we did not receive a response on the issue, we felt it was a valuable experience to reach out to the White House.

Well…

Today we received a package addressed to Hannah (our publicity director) as “Ms. Hannah Kim, Director of Public Relations, Muskwa Club.” Guess who it was from! Inside was a card with the compliments of THE PRESIDENT as well as a copy of his official proclamation that made June 2013 World Oceans Month. While the Vaquita Day was not officially declared, the White House took the time to respond and make the connection between the Vaquita and the ocean!

So, in short, Muskwa is now recognized as an organization by the President of the United States!”

I was so excited to read this! It is obviously a huge step for Muskwa and an enormous deal for the Vaquita!

Also, today Cheryl Butner received her birthday present from Diane Glim (both of the American Cetacean Society), and guess what it was? My book! I am so thankful to both of them, and they even are purchasing 20 for the ACS’s Christmas fundraiser!