World Wetlands Day is February 2nd. What is World Wetlands Day? It's a special day used to raise global awareness about the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet. This year's theme is Wetland for Disaster Risk Reduction. You may be asking yourself what that means. You see, wetlands have an importatn role in reducing the impact of extreme weather events. This can include floods, droughts, and cyclones.
Some people see wetlands as a wasteland, but this isn't true. The people are just misinformed. Wetlands actually safeguard us. Wetlands act as a natural sponge. They absorb and store excess rainfall and reduce flooding. When the dry season hits, these wetlands release this stored water and it helps put off droughts and water shortages. And along the coastlines, wetlands act as a natural buffer. Wetlands also help speed up the recovery when a disaster hits. They act as a natural water filter and they restore nutrients. This is why maintaining healthy wetlands and restoring degraded ones are so important.
Different wetlands help in different ways. Mangroves are shrubs and trees that grow in shallow, tropical coastal waters. They reduce storm surges from hurricanes/cyclones and tsunamis. They also store carbon dioxide which helps fight climate change. Coral reefs are found in shallow tropical waters and they act as off short wave barriers. Rivers and flood plains act as giant reservoirs. Inland deltas are a natural safeguard against droughts. Peatlands are water saturated lands containing decomposed plant material. They store twice as much carbon dioxide as all of the world's forests combined. The peatland cover 3% of the earth's land surface.
64% of all wetlands have disappeared since 1900. Humans have turned rivers into canals, cleared mangroves for the shrimp industry. They have mined coral reefs and drained and filled in wetlands for agriculture. People have also burned and drained peatlands, releasing CO2 in large quantities.
By now you may be wondering how you can help save the wetlands. Pick up garbage that may be blocking the waterways. Ask your government to protect wetlands. Restore wetlands that have been destroyed. Work to find a way to offer a sustainable way for agriculture and fisheries. Keep toxic products from running off into the wetlands (see the Chesapeake Bay as an example). And don't forget to become an advocate/wetland ambassador for the Earth's wetlands. Together, we CAN make a difference. So this February 2nd, please take some time out of your day to organize a wetland clean up, contact your local, state, or government officials or educate others on the importance of saving our wetlands!
If you are interested in having a program about wetlands on World Wetlands Day or any other time of the year, we offer online/virtual classes!
Not all endangered species are cute and furry, and many people forget that there are endangered species that also exist in our oceans.
I'd like you to meet the Gulf Grouper (Mycteroperca jordani). Sure, he's not the prettiest of fish, but he most certainly has his place on the food chain and is just as important as all the colorful, fancy aquatic cousins of his. The Gulf Grouper is a pretty amazing fish that can weigh up to 200 pounds and grow up to 4.9 feet. They dine on crustaceans and other large fish.
These guys live a long time-up to 48 years, as a matter of fact! The females are not even able to breed until they are 6 years old. On top of that, they don't even stay female! They later transition into males, which is what we call protogunous hermaphroditic. Once a year they meet up during a full moon in May at reefs and sea mounts in the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean from La Jolla, California to Mazatlan, Mexico to spawn. This once a year escapade can make them highly susceptible to being harvested.
Juvenile groupers (up to two years old) live in sargassum beds, seagrass areas, mangroves, and estuaries along shallow coastal areas. However, once they are large enough, they move to deeper areas such as rocky reefs, kelp beds and sea mounts, particularly during the summer months.
Unfortunately, in 2016 the Gulf Grouper was put on the Endangered List. While they used to exist in large numbers,, there is now less than 1% left.* This has been caused by direct harvest, the loss of reef habitats, climate change impacts upon coral ecosystems, and bycatching. Bycatching is when fisheries are targeting other species and other animals, like the grouper, get caught up with them.
Sadly, there is no conservation efforts to help the gulf grouper. There is a lack of proper regulations and management plans, as well as a lack of necessary resources to allow fish stock recovery. The future is not looking bright for this mighty fish. Our hope is that one day humans will care for not only the cute and cuddly, but all the magnificent creatures that live on this earth.
The survival of the Indonesian Orangutan has reached a critical stage. The destruction of their habitat, a beautiful rainforest on the island of Borneo, has put the orangutan under serious threat. The suffering and deaths of these amazing apes are primarily due to the production of palm oil.
Many apes have suffered severe burns or death. Babies are taken from their mothers and are illegally sold as pets. Adults are sometimes taken and chained or kept in tiny cages. Many are stranded when their rainforest homes are destroyed and burned to the ground. This has caused the orangutans to come closer to human habitats in a desperate search for food.
With over 80% of their habitat lost, many experts believe orangutans could be extinct in the wild in less than 25 years. But this catastrophic destruction doesn't just affect the orangutans, but other animals as well. This includes the Borneo elephant and the Sumatran tiger.
Want to help? Avoid buying products that contain palm oil. Besides killing so much plant and animal life to plant these palm plantations, refined palm oil contains large amounts of harmful fatty acid esters that damage DNA and cause cancer! Palm oil can be found in cosmetics, food, shampoo, detergents, soaps, etc. Check labels and avoid ingredients such as:
Vegetable oil, Palmitate, Palm Kernel oil, Palmitoyl, Palmolein, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate/Lactylate and Elaeis Guineensis. Ask your retailers for palm oil-free products. Write manufacturers and ask them to use domestic oils. SIgn petitions. Write your elected representatives. Take part in protest marches. Educate others. Donate to a legitimate and respected conservation center or charity.
As consumers, we can make a difference. What we purchase dictates to the manufacturers what they produce. The less palm oil we use, the more lives that will be saved. The next time you shop, please read the label and purchase an alternative! The orangutans will thank you.
Need a list of reputable orangutan conservation organizations? Just email REPCO at firstname.lastname@example.org and write I Love Orangutans in the subject line. Make your day a wild one!
Better late than never! It seems like we have been planning this move forever. 2017 is REPCO's big move to Texas. It was a difficult and heartbreaking decision to leave our incredible clients, fans, and friends in New York and along the east coast, but some truly amazing opportunities are awaiting us in the Lone Star State. Crystal is already down there working and setting up our new facility for the animals. It's an exciting time for us and we look forward to meeting our new clients in person and developing new friendships.
One of our upcoming projects this year will be working with new endangered species and working hard in some new conservation projects. Stay tuned to find out which species and projects we will be working with this year! And if you are in Texas, contact us for a booking to help educate children about our planet and its wildlife. If you are in the Houston area and would like to meet Crystal and discuss bookings, conservation, wildlife, etc., just give us a call or email. Remember to make your day a wild one!
About Crystal Poyfair