News has been absolutely dominated by fear, misinformation, and the daunting, unknown effects of COVID-19. If you’re taking time to read this blog post, know that it is NOT about COVID-19! This week, I am focusing on small or large conservation success stories that have happened recently! It is a chance for you and your mind to take a small break and read about some awesome wildlife that is bouncing back!
Keep Calm and Whale On
As of recent, research and evidence have shown that the humpback whale population is increasing in the South Atlantic. Conservation efforts have been in place for many years since the whales were decimated by hunting from the whaling industry in the early 1900s. Open Access Government says that “the International Whaling Commission issued a suspension on all commercial whaling in the 1980s, the struggling population started to recover.” The South Atlantic whale population was near extinction and their numbers fell to less than 500 in the 1900s. A study from the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences shows their population increased and has steadied to about 25,000 individuals (Adams and Punt, University of Washington).
Stories like this exemplify results that are attainable for species on the brink of extinction. It is amazing and inspiring what we can do for wildlife when we combine dedication, science, community, and education.
We have seen tremendous efforts from countries and cities around the world in reducing plastic consumption, creating more sustainable options, and enforcing laws that limit single-use plastics. Earlier this year, China released a new plan that will reduce plastic use and therefore help oceans and marine wildlife. By the end of 2020, China has vouched to ban non-degradable bags from major cities. In addition, SINGLE-USE STRAWS will be banned from restaurants in China by the end of 2020 (BBC). This is something to look forward to. Take this as a reminder to continue your reduction of plastic in your everyday life!
Baby Shark, Do Do Do Dooo!
Photo Source: Doug Perrin
On February 20, 2020, there were four sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) pups born at the Odysea Aquarium in Scottsdale, AZ! The Odysea Aquarium is an AZA (American Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited facility. There were two female and two male pups born. They are healthy and well. Aquarium staff are closely monitoring and caring for the pups since there is little to no parental care by sandbar sharks in the wild. Sandbar shark pups are extremely rare in human care, with less than 10 births recorded in the United States. KTAR News interviewed the head veterinarian and director of animal health, Dr. Eric Anderson and he said, “Our priority is to give the animals the best healthcare possible and learn as much as we can from this experience.”
The sandbar shark is not endangered, according to the IUCN Red List. However, they are overfished and negatively impacted by human activities. The four pups’ birth at the aquarium is so significant because of the reproductive style of this shark. Generally, they have smaller litter sizes with a slower growth rate and longer gestation period (Florida Museum). This makes them more vulnerable to predation, overexploitation, and global climate change. Let’s celebrate this small win for sharks in human care and hope they inspire action and change in the visitors that see them. To check out these pups, click here or go to the aquarium’s website for more information on the care of these sharks.
Lights, Camera, Action!
There are tons of live cams to watch, observe, and learn from! Check out the live cams available with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I hope it brings a smile to your face. Check it out here. Stay healthy, and stay passionate about marine conservation!
Written By: Bailey Higa