Update on Vaquita: The News is Not Good
But We Are Not Giving Up
Last month was the worst month ever for those of us working to save the vaquita, when three vaquita calves were found dead in gill nets. When you have an estimated population of 50-60 animals, to lose three calves in one month is devastating.
In a welcome twist of fate, this month's news is three adult vaquita were spotted by two scientists, Barbara Taylor, Ph.D. and Jay Barlow, Ph.D. While three of anything may not seem like much, when we are talking about a species that has been so depleted, this is amazingly good news.
Sea Shepard has done a good job of patrolling the area where vaquita live, and they have removed 40 illegal gill nets and 13 longlines from the vaquita's range and routed some poachers in the area.
Sadly, Sea Shepherd departed from the Gulf of California the first week of May. We thank them for protecting the vaquita and hope that they will return soon.
From May 10 to 14, the 7th meeting of CIRVA, the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, will take place. The focus of this meeting will be the publication of the latest population estimate, based on acoustic surveys and the fall 2015 expedition.
Texas Teenager Raises over $17,000
for Save The Whales
By Refusing to be Bullied
A 16-year-old junior high school student, Danielle McMillan, of Lampasas, TX raised over $17,000 for Save The Whales. Known to her friends as Dee, she was recently a victim of cyber bullying. Someone at her school made a fake Twitter profile with the username fatwhaledee. They took a photo of her in the school's power lifting class and put a whale over it.
At first she was clueless as to why students were giggling when they saw her. Then her friends started sending her screenshots of the page. She was filled with shame and embarrassment. She left school and went home where she stayed locked in her room and cried for hours.
With the help of her sister, friends, and plus size model, Laura Lee, Dee decided to turn this horrifying situation into something beautiful. She started to raise money for Save The Whales and designed a T-shirt to help whales on gofundme. Therefore the name. "Dee the Fat Whale Saves The Whales."
Dee says, "This project means so much to me because I can help make a difference in the oceans. I can also set an example for other victims of bullying. I can take someone's hate and use it to spread love.Overcoming things like this is not easy but people need to know that it is possible and they have support."
Dee has raised $10,700 on gofundme, plus another $7,000 given by an organization who read her story, for a total of $17,700. All of it was donated to Save The Whales.
With the generous donation from Dee, Save The Whales can now purchase their lifesized humpback whale for educational purposes, and take it inland where students never have a chance to see a living whale.
It will be called "Dee, The Beautiful Whale."