Muskwa’s new president

It is with great pleasure that I announce that I am the new president of the Muskwa Club, Inc. I will be taking over for William Whittenbury, who is heading off to Northwestern University (but don’t worry, he will still be running the college department of Muskwa). I am extremely excited as to what the next few years will hold for me and the Muskwa Club, and whatever happens, I know that we will be making a huge difference in this world. Feel free to watch my official inauguration speech below.

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¡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.

La Tienda

Check out the ¡Viva Vaquita! La Tienda at http://www.printfection.com/vivavaquita! This great store features a wide range of tops, mugs, mousepads, ornaments, hats, bags, and bottles with various ¡Viva Vaquita! logos and illustrations. Besides the wonderful quality of the products, all of the profits go to the Monterey Bay Chapter of the American Cetacean Society, a non-profit organization. This is the best way to donate, and the best way to buy Vaquita items. Happy shopping!