Here is a poem that I wrote for an upcoming poetry competition focused on ocean pollution:
THE NETS WE FORGET
The dark gray sky casts its shadow on the sea,
The sea swells with the wind, whipping up froth.
Thunder booms among the rolling clouds;
Lightning flashes in the distance,
But underneath, it is calm.
The muffled sound of the storm above dances off the coral.
Small reef fish swarm in and out of nooks and crannies.
All seems fine at first, but there is something wrong here.
A ghost enters the scene.
A nearly invisible drifter.
But this fishing net does not belong to anybody.
It has been abandoned,
But its job is not done.
This ghost still has lives to take.
First comes a shrimp,
A puny pink prawn:
His life ends and is doomed to drift away,
Next is a fish.
A huge one at that.
He swims right into the net,
And in the blink of an eye,
The life leaves his body.
A little porpoise swims through the shallows,
Bubbles dancing down her side.
She’s teaching her baby how to fish.
They happen upon a juicy meal,
But as the mother darts towards the target,
She is struck by a web of death.
The fish they were chasing
Was already a victim.
The baby, terrified, watches as her mother writhes in agony.
And the ghost has taken yet another life.
Here is a double exposure image, made from a Vaquita photograph and an ocean sunset photograph that I combined using digital software:
And here is a mosaic of a Vaquita made out of hundreds of photographs taken during International Save the Vaquita Days 2014 & 2015:
International Save the Vaquita Day has become a huge event, and one that has been—and will continue to be—making a legitimate difference for the Vaquita and its survival. Showing the people and government of Mexico that the world cares about the Vaquita and appreciates their efforts to date will hopefully inspire them to follow through with their promises and actually save this species. To make ISTVD 2016 the biggest one yet, help ignite the buzz and donate to the event by buying a cool ISTVD 2016 t-shirt!
On October 22, two Vaquitas were photographed at close range, marking the first good photographs of the 2015 Vaquita Expedition, and some of the best ever of the species, for that matter!
Check out some of the photos (by Todd Pusser):
Everyone is extremely excited about this sighting (and the approximately 25 other Vaquitas seen so far during this expedition!), as well as relieved to have new photos for future conservation efforts. President Enrique Peña Nieto is one of these excited individuals! He tweeted reports and photos of the sightings, and also stated that the efforts to save this species rage on, detailing the extensive recovery plan once again in a press release today! The U.S. government has also announced their partnership with Mexico and both of their commitments to saving the Vaquita and eliminating the illegal Totoaba trade in China.
Weather conditions during the expedition have been favorable for the most part (despite the devastating Hurricane Patricia that hit much further south in Mexico), allowing for many sightings, including many of female (cow) Vaquitas with their calves that were presumably born this spring. This is tremendous news, as it means that Vaquitas are still finding ways to reproduce, and therefore can recover if the population isn’t being threatened by gillnets. This expedition has only been going on for a month, and it has already resulted in over 25 sightings, great photographs, and best of all, a renewed hope among the conservation community that the Vaquita can not only be saved, but that all the pieces are already in place to make it actually happen.
Today marks the beginning of Expedition Vaquita 2013! We wish you the best of luck ¡Viva Vaquita!
Let’s hope that they have a successful mission, including getting some good Vaquita photographs. If they start a blog during the expedition, I will post it here.
In order to help fund ¡Viva Vaquita!’s photographic expedition scheduled for September 23 – October 16, 2013, they are accepting donations of any marine mammal books. I took this as the perfect opportunity to send Tom Jefferson my book. If you have any marine mammal literature lying around your house, please contact Tom Jefferson (see below). This expedition will be so important for the Vaquita and interesting for Vaquita enthusiasts not only because the scientists will be able to make sure the Vaquita is still alive and hopefully see a bunch, but also because they could get some new photographs that could be very important for Vaquita education in the future. They are also bringing over 1000 Spanish Vaquita coloring books to distribute to the local schools! Here is what ¡Viva Vaquita!’s website says about the book drive:
MARINE MAMMAL BOOKS AND REPRINTS WANTED
¡Viva Vaquita! is requesting marine mammal books, reprints, monographs, and journals. Literature can be donated or we can purchase sets of books, reprints, and journals. We make the literature available to colleagues working on marine mammals, getting it into hands where it will be actively used, and in the process help to raise funds for research and conservation work on the Vaquita. Donations are tax-deductible, and we may be able to arrange pick-up of large quantities of literature. We are currently collecting literature to help fund our Sept/Oct 2013 expedition to San Felipe, and to conduct education work with local organizations and school groups in Mexico. If you have any literature you would be interested in donating or selling to us, please contact Tom Jefferson at firstname.lastname@example.org.