Save The Whales' mission is to preserve and
protect the ocean and its inhabitants.
|Students learn how to measure transparency of water on a field trip to ocean.|
Save the Whales Presents Meaningful
Program to Underserved Children
Thanks to federal grant funding from the Bay Watershed Education Training Program (BWET) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), we were able to do a year-long program for 150 underserved students in grades 4 and 5. We focused on Frank Ledesma Elementary school in Soledad, California, in southern Monterey County because the children have far fewer opportunities for outside programs due to their geographic remoteness.
The focus of the program is to connect students with their local watersheds and make the connection as how actions (littering, chemicals, motor oil, and pet waste), washing into storm drains on land, even if far away from waterways, can have a direct impact on streams, rivers, and creeks, which all connect to the ocean.
Indoor activities included a marine debris art contest, programs on sea turtles and whales with hands-on artifacts and a model of a cityscape that students can pollute. Through outdoor activities with litter cleanups, bus field trips to a local river and at the end of the program to the ocean, students and their teachers were able to connect how human activities have an impact on local waterways and wildlife. For many of the students, it was the first time they had ever been to a river or the ocean. Several of them were enthralled with sand and just letting it run through their fingers. They learned how to be citizen scientists and use scientific tools to measure pH and transparency. They learned how to use binoculars and identify birds and wildlife and made discoveries. It opened a door for them to experience nature and ask questions and feed their natural curiosity.
Save The Whales leads all the programs with our incredible education team and local college students who do their community service hours with us. We are grateful that the program was so well received and will be funded for a second year of programming.
Letter from Richard Radtke, Principal
Frank Ledesma Elementary School
The Save the Whales program had a major positive impact on our school. The
program provided a fantastic mixture of on-site educational opportunities that
were hands on and informative. The field trips were incredible and the
experiences provide life-long memories for the students. The science education
has helped strengthen our curriculum.
The teachers were very motivated by Save the Whales program. The teachers
were motivated to learn as much as the students. We have a huge growing
interest in science especially involving water, climate, and ocean animals.
Our school is a 100% free and reduced lunch school. Our school is located in
a rural high-poverty community. Some of our students come from agricultural
labor housing located near the nearby prison. There is no way we could have
afforded to provide these trips and opportunities for our students, many of
whom had never been to the ocean before.
Now they see a connection with the agriculture they are familiar with, the
mountains, and the entire pathway of life all the way to the ocean. They
love whales and turtles and have developed a connection with animals in
Thank you for this life-changing opportunity! We really need Save the Whales
and through your organization, I have a feeling we are saving a lot of children too.
School Kids Protect Vaquita
Inspired by the nearly-extinct vaquita porpoise, first graders at the
Carmel River Elementary School, Carmel, CA, crafted 23 life-size
models. They made one for each member of the class, and raised
Children with One of Their
over $1,000 to protect the vaquita environment.
It began with students participating in the "1 Million Postcards" drive to help save the vaquita, the most endangered marine mammal on earth, with an estimated 15 members remaining.
The postcards and student artwork were signed by thousands of participants and were delivered to the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Their loving individual life-size models of the vaquita were hung from the ceiling of the classroom to educate their school. Then the ambitious students raised funds to help the vaquita by selling popsicles at their school. Their teacher, Miss Pam Gillooly, said:
"I thought we would raise maybe $100-$200 to help the vaquita. The class raised $1,046 and donated it to Save The Whales. They wired the funds to support a partner organization PESCA ABC in San Felipe, Mexico, that will pay fishermen to retrieve discarded gill nets from the vaquita area."
Narluga: A Hybrid Species is Identified
In the late 80s, an Inuit hunter named Jens Larsen killed three unusual whales. Neither narwhal or beluga, they seemed to be a combination of these animals. Subsistence hunters were used to killing narwhals with males having a long helical tusk protruding from their upper jaw on the left side but, it was not as long as these. The animals resembled a beluga whose all white bodies made them unique, but these animals were gray.
These marine mammals didn't belong to either species. The flippers were like those of the beluga, but their tails were like those of a narwhal. Mr. Larsen kept a skull of one of them on the roof of his tool shed.
In 1990, the skull got the attention of Mads Peter Heide-Jorgensen a scientist who studies marine mammals. With Mr. Larsen's permission, he took the skull to the Greenland Fisheries Research Institute in Copenhagen to try and figure out what animal possessed such a skull. Mr. Heide-Jorgensen made a suggestion - that it might be a hybrid between the two species, beluga and narwhal, but he had no way of confirming his suggestion.
Thirty years later, with the advent of DNA testing, an analysis of one skull showed that it came from an adult, first generation son of a narwhal mother and a beluga father. The hybrid whale's shared features are unusual, particularly his teeth which stuck out at odd angles. His teeth were radically different from either parent. Belugas have up to 40 teeth in their upper and lower jaws; narwhals have no teeth. The hybrid had 18 teeth, all different and oddly shaped, and some had spirals that turned in the same direction as a narwhal's tusk. In spite of his teeth, his skull indicated he had survived well into adulthood. His diet of carbon and nitrogen in his bones suggested that he had fed on the seafloor, a diet more like a walrus or bearded seal.
What is in a Hybrid Name
A hybrid's name comes first from the male, i.e., a male polar bear and a female grizzly is a pizzley. But if you have a grizzly father and a polar bear mother, you are a grolar. To be correct, the animal at discussion is a belwhal, but to make an exception for what is more pleasing to the ear, we have a narluga. There is the liger, an animal with a lion father and a tiger mother, and a coywolf from a male coyote and a female wolf. The list is extensive.
Remember to pick up trash, whether it be in your neighborhood or at the beach.
Can the Vaquita Porpoise Survive?
Sea of Shadows won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Awards. This documentary doesn't have a quiet moment as it tells the heart-wrenching story of the most endangered marine mammal on earth, the vaquita porpoise. It takes place in the Sea of Cortez, a vibrant body of water which Jacques Cousteau called the "Aquarium of the Pacific."
It features environmentalists, scientists, filmmakers, the Mexican Navy, Sea Shepard, local fishermen, the Mexican cartel, undercover investigators, the Chinese mafia, Mexican policemen and, of course, the beautiful little vaquita. It tells the vaquita's story where, due to rampart corruption by the Mexican cartel and the Chinese mafia, we are seeing the vaquita's demise.
Drawing of vaquita by Julia Drennan at then age 12
The Chinese pay thousands of dollars on the black market for the swim bladder of the totoaba, an endangered fish, that lives in the same area as the vaquita.
They believe that it holds medicinal powers in Chinese medicine, even though there is no proof to this claim. The vaquita is killed as bycatch when it is trapped and drowns in the gillnets set for the totoaba. Short sighted greed is wiping out two endangered species in the blink of an eye, the totoaba and the vaquita.
Tom and Tom go to Hollywood
One of our educators, Tom Kieckhefer, M.Sc., along with Thomas Jefferson, Ph.D., who founded our group ¡Viva
Vaquita!, went to Hollywood for the premiere of Sea of Shadows. We have not given up hope that the vaquita can recover with all the newfound attention it has garnered and the subsequent pressure put on Mexico. As an example, the condor came back from just 23 birds.
For movie locations around the globe, go to the link below to see it in your area. Spread the word and bring your friends and family to see this worthwhile documentary. Sea of Shadows was made by a National Geographic team, directed by Richard Ladkani; Leonardo DiCaprio was the executive producer.
Also, get a group together and see Sea of Shadows. If it is not playing at a theater near you, request it and tell them why it is so important.
Maris Sidenstecker I, President
Save The Whales
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation