This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, one of the most successful environmental laws in U.S. history. Friday, May 17, 2013 is the 8th annual Endangered Species Day – a day to spread awareness of species at-risk and to share success stories of species that have recovered. Join us in raising awareness!
- Attend an Endangered Specie Day event. Find one here!
- Spread the word on social media. Mention @savespecies in a tweet to help Endangered Species Coalition gain supporters (be sure to hashtag #ESDay). Or share a wildlife message with your Facebook friends (include @Endangered Species Coalition in your post so they can see your support).
- Learn about conservation efforts in your state! U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s interactive map can help you discover which species are being protected in your area.
- Use Endangered Species Coalition’s 10 Things You Can Do list to make simple changes that can have a big impact on species conservation.
Did you know that 6 out of 7 species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered? Sadly, they face many dangers as they travel the seas – including accidental capture in fishing gear, loss of nesting and feeding sites, intentional hunting (poaching) and ocean pollution.
Follow our guest blogger, Brad Nahill, Director and Co-Founder of conservation non-profit SEEtheWILD, as he sets off to make a difference! His journey has him teamed up with some of the world’s leading conservationists to learn all they can about sea turtles and the threats they face. Gathering new knowledge is vital in determining the best course of action to save these endangered creatures of the sea.
From the Field: Travels to El Salvador and Nicaragua
Summer in Portland, Oregon is wonderful. Warm sunny days blend gradually into crisp nights even at the height of summer, a perfect climate to explore the Columbia Gorge, Mt. Hood, and the Oregon Coast. So why am I giving up two weeks of my hometown’s best weather to visit the hot, rainy, and buggy coastal areas of El Salvador and Nicaragua?
When you get the opportunity to tag along with some of the world’s leading turtle conservationists to put satellite tags on possibly the planet’s most endangered sea turtles, you say yes and start looking at airfares. Over ten days, I will travel with a small, diverse group of people to visit four key sea turtle habitats in two countries. We will put transmitters on turtles at three of the sites, attend turtle festivals, and meet local residents working to support conservation programs.
Despite having worked in sea turtle conservation for most of the past decade, this trip will be a series of firsts for me. First time working with transmitters, first time to both of these countries, and the next wild hawksbill I see will only be the second of my career. I will be sharing these experiences with blog posts, images, and more in the hopes of educating people about the threats that sea turtles face in this region and how people can participate in their conservation.
A few of the inspiring people I’ll be meeting up with include Alex & Ingrid Gaos, the driving force behind the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, one of the most hopeful turtle conservation stories out there; Jose Urteaga of Flora and Fauna International, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and one of Nicaragua’s leaders in turtle conservation; and Dr. Jeff Seminoff, director of Marine Turtle Research at the National Marine Fisheries Service of NOAA. Others include Randall Arauz, recent winner of the prestigious Goldman Prize and founder of Pretoma, a leading wildlife organization in Costa Rica; Enriqueta Ramirez, founder of VivAzul and one of El Salvador’s leading young turtle conservationists; and Liza Gonzalez, current Nicaragua Director for Paso Pacifico and former director of the Nicaragua protected area system.
Some researchers believe the hawksbill turtles of this region are the most endangered in the world. A network of people are working to bring these turtles back from the brink while at the same time providing opportunities for improving the lives of coastal residents near turtle hotspots. I’ll be writing about how these hawksbills have chosen mangroves over coral reefs (unlike the rest of their species around the world) and about innovative programs that are providing optimism for the future of turtles in the region. I hope you will join me on this exploration to learn about one of the world’s most charismatic and endangered animals.
…to be continued.
Read the next post from Brad’s conservation trip, On a Mission.
Brad Nahill is the Director & Co-Founder of SEEtheWILD, the world’s first non-profit wildife conservation travel website. To date, we have generated more than $300,000 for wildlife conservation and local communities and our volunteers have completed more than 1,000 work shifts at sea turtle conservation project. SEEtheWILD is a project of The Ocean Foundation.
Halloween is right around the corner. Time to start thinking about costumes! Instead of buying, consider a more eek-o-minded approach. Saturday, October 8th is National Costume Swap Day™ – a planet friendly way to get kids recycling in the funniest way possible – trading (reusing) princess gowns, witch’s hats and superhero capes!
Costume swaps or making your own costumes from materials you have on hand means less resources, less packaging and less waste. Wrap your mind around this fact: swapping (aka reusing) just half the costumes kids wear at Halloween would reduce annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons! It also means you can be original and decide exactly what you want to be for Halloween. Imagine trying to find a tornado costume at a big box store!
DIY Tornado Costume
- black t-shirt and pants
- masking tape
- assorted small tornado victims (leaves, toy tractor, barnyard animal figures)
Wrap masking tape up one pant leg (crinkle tape a bit for authentic tornado texture!). Repeat with t-shirt, wrapping tape in a spiral up to neck. Tie assorted toys and figures to short bits of fishing line. Tie fishing lined tornado victims to random spots on t-shirt and pants. Muss up child’s hair and brush a bit of dusty brown eyeshadow across face to complete the transformation!
Swaps can be as simple as getting together with a few neighbors or as large as a citywide event; check Costume Swap’s site to find local swaps you can attend. No matter the size of your event, a costume swap is the perfect way to save the resources it takes to create new costumes. Plus, trading costumes saves you money! Check out this incredibly cute video; twin brothers, Tristin and Tyler, show you how it’s done.
Find more ways to green up your holiday at Green Halloween®.
Photo image by Hitchster via Flickr Creative Commons
With summer here, my mind has turned to planning our annual family beach trip. Images of building sandcastles, splashing in the surf and long walks on the beach fill my daydreams as I count down the days till vacation. As a mom of a nature-embracing little boy, I aim to pass along ways to play and explore the beach that make sure this fragile ecosystem is protected from his well-meaning, oh-so-curious hands.
LOOK AND RELEASE
It’s fun (and educational) to scoop crabs and other sea creatures into a bucket to observe. Just keep in mind that these guys need water to breathe. Even with water in your bucket, a crab will only last 20 minutes before it begins to suffocate. Look – then let them go.
DON’T ROCK IT!
Wondrous discoveries can be made by looking under rocks in tide pools. Just be sure to lift rocks straight up (so you don’t accidentally crush critters hiding underneath) and replace the rocks gently, leaving them as you found them. Many beach creatures find cool, moist homes under rocks, logs and seaweed. If you move or take their home. they might not survive. Check out this video for a rock lifting demonstration.
CLINGING FOR A REASON
Starfish, mussels and other clingy creatures survive waves and predators by hanging tightly to rocks and wharf pilings. If picked off a rock or perch, they rarely survive.
DUNES ARE SENSITIVE
Use dune walk-overs and designated beach access points to cross dunes. This fights erosion by protecting the plants that hold the dunes in place. Dunes are also a popular spot for sea turtle nests and should not be disturbed.
What am I missing? Share other ways we can protect and preserve beaches by leaving a comment below.
Photo image by gareth1953 via Flickr Creative Commons
Bring your backyard to life
As I write, I am listening to the clear, fluted sound of a couple of Black-Capped Chickadees coupled with the metallic chirp of a Northern Cardinal. It’s relaxing, entertaining and satisfying to the nature-lover in me to devote the backyard to the birds. Habitat restoration is vital for wild birds and other wildlife due to commerical and residential infringement on natural areas. Your backyard (or if space is limited – your balcony!) is one place where you can easily make a difference. All you need to do is provide 4 basic elements:
You can help secure a food supply for birds by planting shrubs and trees that produce seeds, fruits, nuts and nectar. This is a sure fire way to make your yard attractive to birds for years to come. Here’s a list to give you planting ideas. Bird feeders (seed, nectar, suet) make it super easy to provide a helping hand to the birds throughout the year. Plus, you can position a feeder in a prime spot for bird watching. Just be sure to place it near a tree or shrub – birds like cover from predators while feeding and a place to perch while waiting for a turn at the feeder.
Water is an important part of your backyard habitat. A pedestal bird bath or shallow water dish placed at ground level will provide the necessary water for drinking and bathing. Replace the water every few days to keep it fresh and clean. Although this is a bit of extra work, it is well worth it. A water source can dramatically increase the number and type of wild birds that visit your yard. Plus it is totally entertaining to watch birds splash around in the water. Be sure to place the bird bath where you can view it from indoors. For more tips on supplying water, click here.
Shelter will turn your yard from a place where birds visit to a place where birds live. Birds need places to hide from predators and the weather. Plant evergreen trees and shrubs that provide year round cover. Large rocks, stumps, ground cover and brush piles offer a welcome haven for ground feeding birds.
PLACE TO RAISE THEIR YOUNG
With more and more destruction of natural habitats, birds are having trouble finding nesting and roosting sites. Bluebirds, purple martins and woodpeckers are struggling to find places to raise their young. Go here to find specifications for birdhouses that will suit the birds you wish to attract. You can put birdhouses up any time of the year; when not in use for nesting, many birds will use them for a place to sleep in cold weather.
Now that you’re a bird nerd…
Once you have your backyard habitat established, treat yourself to a field guide or mobile app (I use iBird) to help you learn about and identify your new feathered friends. You can also participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count to help scientists create a real-time snapshot of where birds are across the continent. On Twitter? Search #birdnerd to see what other bird watchers are tweeting.
Special thanks to my friend, Stephanie, a fellow bird nerd, for the post idea.
Which birds frequent YOUR backyard? Let’s compare birding notes (include your State in the comment to make it more interesting)!
Better late than never
My mind is continously wrapped around chocolate and species conservation. It’s my job and I love it. And you’d THINK that I’d be totally keyed in to all the conservation-minded holidays out there – but they always sneak up on me. Usually, I become aware of these obscure observances the day after the fact. Like World Water Day (March 22) and International Migratory Bird Day (May 14). And wouldn’t you know it – World Turtle Day was May 23rd. I’ve given up too many good writing ideas for fear of being untimely. Watch me now as I bravely and belatedly post about World Turtle Day!
Soft spot for hard-shelled creatures
Turtles and tortoises have been around for more than 200 million years. They obviously are creatures that are meant to stand the test of time. However, over the past 20 years, almost 50% of all turtle species have been listed as threatened. And six out of seven species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered. Since learning these deporable facts, I aim to seek out ways to help.
SEE Turtles saves sea turtles
Combining conservation tourism and volunteerism, SEE Turtles works in Costa Rica, Baja California Sur and Trinidad – vital nessting habitats for endangered sea turtles – to support community-based turtle protection efforts.
You can get involved in a small, meaningful way by purchasing Endangered Species Chocolate’s Save the Sea Turtle Gift Pack. Or you can go big and plan an adventure vacation with SEE Turtles and have a hands on sea turtle saving experience!
Be aware of baby turtles
The U.S. Humane Society urges people to beware of fairs, carnivals, flea markets and pet shops that sell baby turtles. In 1975, FDA’s Public Health and Services Act banned the sale/distribution of turtles less than four inches in length. Despite the ban, baby turtles continue to be sold – an illegal practice that is destructive to both turtles and humans. A practice I recently witnessed at a tourist shop while on a beach getaway weekend. You can bet when I return to the beach this month, I am going to be asking the store owner some hard questions and reporting them. Click here to learn how to report these types of violations to the FDA.
Many turtle species are declining due to the pet trade. Children often lose interest in pet animals obtained on impulse and parents may not be prepared to care for a turtle who can live for decades and grow to be a foot long. Turtles need proper light and temperature, a water filtration system and room to grow. Countless pet turtles die from being kept in inadequate conditions.
Humans, especially young children, are also put at risk by close contact with pet turtles. A major Salmonella outbreak in 2007 that sickened 107 people (mostly children) in 37 states was attributed to pet turtles.
World Turtle Day
May is a busy time for turtles (yes, yes…I know it is now JUNE!). Many have recently emerged from winter hibernation and are beginning their search for mates and nesting areas. May 23rd was designated World Turtle Day in 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue. The day is used to highlight the threats to turtles’ survival and educate about what we can do to protect these quiet creatures. Just like this post, caring and spreading the word is better late than never.
Share your turtle stories! Join me in celebrating a belated World Turtle Day by commenting below.
Meet Natalie Patton, winner of Endangered Species Chocolate/Whole Foods Market’s ‘Indulge in a Cause’ photo contest. Natalia offered to guest blog and share her experience of seeking out and selecting the receipient of the contest’s grand prize $5,000 donation. Her passion is contagious!
I’ve wondered it, I can promise you have too and wouldn’t we all just like to know? I mean, just exactly how many chocolate bars qualify as a years worth of chocolate? Like you, I was not entirely sure, but it peaked my interest enough to submit a photograph to the Endangered Species Chocolate and Whole Foods photo contest. Because let’s face it, chocolate is quite the compelling force. And $5,000 to go toward my favorite environmentally focused non-profit? Say no more! Submission here I come.
A patch of green in a concrete jungle
I find myself in a squished, but comfortable apartment with my childhood best friend. We live in the midst of a concrete jungle of white cement and bricks smeared with dirt and soot reusing to leave any space un-smogged. If you came for a short visit, the tour would be incredilby short lived, since you can see it all by standing in the entrance. So instead, I would direct your attention outside. I would tempt you to wander up to the roof of our apartment building and tell you to keep wandering around to the back corner. Because in that back corner there is a little color, curve and life in the midst of great gray and squareness.
And it is precisely that back corner that intrigued my lens one afternoon. The submitted photo is of my friend doing a little weeding of our roof-top garden. It’s not much, but we are becoming quite attached to our tomato, pepper and strawberry plants.
Indulge in a cause (getting involved and asking questions)
Thanks to my roommate’s web-surfing, some persuasive encouragement, Endangered Species Chocolate and Whole Foods, and some serious voting from the world of Facebook, I found myself, only a few short days after submitting my roof-top garden photo, sitting with an email in my inbox telling me the news: my photo had won the contest. As I sat staring at the email, I realized I had an incredible opportunity at my finger tips. Yes, of course the years supply of chocolate, but the donation?
As a recent college grad, this amount of money seemed extraordinarily astronomical, but that’s probably because the only people seeing any of my income with significant digits (or any multiple zeros with commas) is the US government – thanks student loans. Needless to say, this sum of money seemed to possess great potential for good.
So where to begin? How can one begin to narrow down all the wonderfully worthy environmentally focused non-profits out there? And how does one go about giving away money? Which non-profit would use it best? How can one be sure the money will be spent wisely and efficiently?
Now, I should tell you, I know what it’s like to be one of the many voices advocating for the important work done day in and day out at a non-profit. I know the feelings that possess the gut when seeking to form the proper words for writing that one grant; when every ounce of energy dripping with the deepest depths of sincerity, believing beyond passionately that this organization should receive that money. Those feelings are familiar.
I had never been the one with the money. At least, not until last week.
Embracing a Passion: Urban Gardening Efforts
So…where to begin? Food is important to both my friend and I. The growing of food, to the fair treatment and pay to the farmers who grew the food, to the proper respect given to the land from where the food was grown – all of these things I care deeply about. So immediately, we knew that if our photo won the contest, we would choose to have the money go toward sustainable urban gardening efforts.
Now I am a born and bred Mid-west, Minnesota native. Raised just outside the city center hub of Minneapolis, St. Paul. I knew immediately that I wanted the money to go to a local grassroots organization located within the city.
After some digging and emails to various non-profit directors, Youth Farm and Market Program caught and held me and my friend’s attention. Their main goal is to empower kids through the process of growing food in several urban gardens.
Youth Farm and Market Program (YFMP) is about connecting locally produced food to the neighborhood communities from wich it was grown. They are about educating youth, living in urban neighborhoods, in gardening, nutrition and entrepreneurship skills. By seeing this young and growing generation and what ideas and dreams they have to offer their communities. YFMP is empowering young voices to be advocates and leaders within their own communities.
Since YFMP is such a community based organization, the Executive Director, Gunnar Linden, confidently assured that every dollar of the donation would go directly toward achieving said goal of growing food as a medium to develop youth in the community. Whether that be supporting the costs of adding two new neighborhood gardens this summer or supporting Powderhorn Project LEAD where youth are taking part in paid internships, or finally being able to buy that truck they’ve been needing. All options are signs of exciting growth of a great organization.
There is a video of YFMP in action on their website. I encourage you to watch this video, particularly the last interview with a wee girl, because she says it best. When asked why she came back for another year of youth Farm Camp, her gentle, whispered response is, “Because, it was like te funnest summer I ever had.”
But don’t take my word for it. Learn more about the great and inspiring work they are doing on their website. Visit www.youthfarm.net.
To Endangered Species Chocolate and Whole Foods – thank you for this incredible opportunity. To Youth Farm and Market Program – keep working, learning, growing and empowering. Your work is important. To the rest of you – if you are still curious about what a year’s worth of chocolate might look like…check out the evidence.
‘Involved’ asks: What criteria do you consider when choosing to donate to a non-profit? Are there any tools you find helpful to narrow down selections for your donations? How does giving make you feel? Share thoughts and ideas by commenting below.
As I find more and more ways to green up my life, I find that there are some eco-minded acts I relish more than others. I may not LOVE all the eco chores on my To Do list – but I incorporate them into my family’s life because the actions reflect how we want to support the planet.
→ Rinsing out peanut butter and jelly jars before tossing them in the recycle bin? *grumble, grumble, complain*
→ Hitting myself over the head when I forget to BYOBag on shopping trips? Ugh, now I have to lug those horrid plastic bags home, hanging my head in shame.
→ And taking kitchen scraps out to the compost bin? According to my husband, I put this chore off till the last minute each and every week.
But enough about the small handful of eco-tasks that I don’t totally dig! There is a long list of green-minded habits that I find inspiring, enjoyable and – dare I say – indulgent. Finding ways to help the planet that mesh with your personal interests is a great way to nurture a lasting commitment to being green.
→ As a girl that likes to get her hands dirty, I find it a fun, educational challenge to raise my flowers and vegetables organically. And all those drought-resistant native plants I planted over the years? They give me a beautiful backyard that requires little to no watering or maintenance.
→ Biking is an excellent way to reduce my carbon footprint – but really, pedaling home from work is a rather selfish act that allows me to arrive home refreshed and stress free.
→ Shopping at our local farmer’s market tests my budding culinary skills as I create a meal from the organic produce available that day. It also is a great way to spead a Saturday morning outdoors with my family.
Next on my list of Earth-friendly chores to employ are putting up a backyard clothes line and joining an environmental advocacy group in my area. Being environmentally aware isn’t all about the mundane daily tasks (note to self – remember to buy energy-efficient bulb for front porch light!), it’s about finding creative, fun ways to incorporate green acts into your lifestyle. Want to see how other’s do it? Check out the photo entries in Whole Foods and Endangered Species Chocolate’s “Indulge in a Cause” photo contest. Vote for your favorite by May 13th; the grand prize winner receives $5,000 to donate to the eco-charity of their choice and a year of chocolate from ESC.
What eco-tasks do you find not all that thrilling? Which ones do you truely embrace and enjoy? Share with us by commenting below.
Who are these people? What kind of person has such apathy – such a basic lack of fundamental respect? Who do they think is going to pick that up?
These questions ricocheted around my brain last week as I turned into the road leading to my house. A trail of trash littered the entire right hand side for a good 50 feet. Having this eyesore so close to home made me mad, sad and embarrassed. Not only was it a bad reflection on my neighborhood, it was also an ugly reminder that there are people that just don’t think or care about the health of our planet.
Instead of spending the day seething, I decided to get involved. Donning a pair of gloves that I usually reserve for more pleasant pastimes (gardening), I set out to set things right. Sticky plastic cups, random paper scraps, discarded fast food wrappers and other bits too miserable to mention were taken out of nature and put in their place. I filled an entire trash bag during my 15-minute walk.
Looking back down the now clean stretch of road, I felt protective. Woe to the person that tosses trash on MY street! (OK, who am I kidding – I’m not a confrontational person…I’ll just quietly be back out there, picking up others’ laziness) Although, according to Keeping America Beautiful, I may not have to. One of the strongest contributors to littering is the prevalence of existing litter. Picking up litter is one sure fire way to make a positive impact. I am now totally tuned in to litter. I see it everywhere (a mixed blessing of sorts) and you can bet I’m out there picking it up and putting it in its place!
Share your thoughts on litter; leave me a comment – let’s commiserate and cheer each other on!
When my refrigerator went kaput last summer, I spent an entire day researching a replacement – comparing cost, quality, Energy Star ratings, company profiles, etc (while simultaneously consuming all the ice cream in my lukewarm freezer).
With big purchases, I’m all about digging deep to ensure that the product I’m investing in matches not only my budget – but my values too. But I admit, with it comes to day-to-day, grab-and-go buys, I don’t always do my homework. I mean, who has space in their brain to remember which juice brand hinders clean water access abroad or which pasta sauce earned a Greenwash Award for public deception?
When Endangered Species Chocolate was named one of the 20 Best Companiesby Better World Shopper, they sent us a complimentary copy of the indispensable guide. The Better World Shopping Guide (available for ipod too) can turn a grocery list into a powerful tool for changing the world. It grades popular products on five essential issues:
- Human Rights
- The Environment
- Animal Protection
- Community Involvement
- Social Justice
Using an easy to grasp A+ to F grading system, I can quickly identify companies to lovingly embrace (“Corporate Heroes”) and ones to avoid like the plague (“Corporate Villains”). A good place to start is with changes that make to the most impact, Top 10 Things to Change. Me, I’m tucking this pocket-sized guide in my purse and heading to the grocery store. Hopefully fellow shoppers will stop and ask why I have my nose in a book. I’ll give them a sweet, green-minded earful – especially if I don’t see reuseable shopping bags on them! *wink*
Which products/services have your switched in order to better align with your beliefs and values?
THE TWEET FEED
- RT @whos_that_kmj: @ESC_Chocolate I do! You sent me some. It was gorgeous and yummy @yourebeauteous
- RT @halfkorean: @ESC_Chocolate I can't remember the magazine, but as soon as I saw your ad about 5 years ago, I placed an order online!
- Do you remember how you first discovered our chocolate? @yourebeauteous tells her @ESC_Chocolate tale http://t.co/rLYNLzmQVv
- RT @HartzPets: Are you at #BlogPaws? Stop by the Hartz booth for some Bug Bites! http://t.co/7UOXVbbhol Look for the orange table cloth! @E…
- Take a look at endangered species through the eyes of children via @savespecies Youth Art Contest finalists http://t.co/QxJx4PZloA #ESday