MARINE LIFE CONSERVATION
The health of the ocean and marine life are incredibly taken for granted. Although almost 70% of our oxygen comes from the ocean, but humanity continues to pollute and exploit sea life and marine ecosystems. Because of our exponential increase in numbers and disdainful practices, the ocean is as vulnerable to ruin by human activities as any other environmental biome.
Did you know that 1.4 billion pounds of trash enters our ocean annually?
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
1. Reduce your use of single-use plastics (plastic bags, straws, etc.)
3. Contribute to Beach/River Cleanups!
4. Support bans and write to your policy makers!
5. Try not to use microbeads click HERE to learn more about what these are.
6. Raise awareness about ocean pollution!
At Jaws & Paws, we have a long history of working with Green Sea Turtles in Hawaii. For many years our founder worked with the Ocean Project in Lahaina, Maui tagging sea turtles, conducting research, and facilitating conservation efforts to protect them. Sea turtles are remarkable animals. They can migrate thousands of miles per year, and females return to the beach they were born to nest. It is extremely essential to protect sea turtles because they are currently endangered, and play a vital role in the ecosystems they live in. Even though its illegal to harm, kill, or collect them, these magnificent creatures are constantly in danger because of the illegal wildlife trade, ocean pollution, and overfishing/bycatch.
Major threats to sea turtles include: poaching, overfishing, habitat destruction and pollution. Studies suggest that the most common causes of their decline is a result of bycatch from fisherman. Bycatch is when fishermen accidentally take other species besides the ones they are trying to fish. For example, turtles constantly get tangled in nets and fishing lines, even though they aren’t being targeted for food. The majority of the time fishermen don't see the other animals that get caught in their nets until its too late.
When fishing for salmon, tuna, shrimp, etc, many turtles are often killed in the process. At Jaws & Paws we are pairing with research institutes in Hawaii to study sea turtles’ sight and how they visualize color in order to place warning signals on nets, so that turtles know not to approach them. We are also partnering with sustainable fishing companies to develop a sustainable net that would prevent bycatch. Dolphins, whales, sharks, sea horses, otters, and seals are other animals that are affected by bycatch.
Pollution, specifically the use of single-use plastics like plastic bags, straws, or coffee lids also poses a major threat to sea turtles. Studies have shown a plastic bag can travel around the world, meaning no matter where you are your trash could make its way into the mouth of a sea turtle and potentially kill it. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. You can start making a difference today by switching to paper bags, recycling, and spreading the word! The less plastic we use, the more lives we can save!
Overall it is astronomically important to take these steps in protecting sea turtles because they are crucial to the well-being of our oceans and environment as a whole. They're one of the main predators to jellyfish, and an overpopulation of jellyfish has harmful effects on surrounding ecosystems. Jellyfish blooms have resulted in depleted fisheries, low oxygen levels (70% of our oxygen comes from the ocean), and algal blooms. Therefore, we must all take charge and help sea turtles!
What is shark finning?
Shark finning is a brutal act that occurs to supply the demand of shark fin on the illegal wildlife market. Its the process of removing a shark's fin, usually while the animal is still alive (so fishermen can save room on their ships they cut the fins off and toss the sharks overboard). Shark fins are used in shark fin soup, which is an ancient Chinese delicacy. About 70 million sharks are slaughtered a year for shark fin soup. After the shark finning process, sharks end up drowning or bleeding to death after being thrown overboard because they can't survive without their fins. Shark fin is extremely valuable, as it can be worth up to $700/lb, which is why promoting shark conservation is an enormous challenge for environmentalists. Since sharks are also deemed as mindless killing machines by the media in their portrayal by movies like 'Jaws', environmentalists and activists have a hard time convincing people to protect sharks. So why is it important to help them?
Why help sharks?
120 species of sharks threatened by extinction
Shark finning is a major cause of their decline
Sharks are essential for the ocean’s ecosystems because as the top predators they maintain a balance in various food chains (regulating populations of smaller organisms)
⅓ of our world’s food comes from the ocean
The ocean regulates the temperature in the atmosphere (the last time the ocean was sparse, there was an ice age that killed off almost every species on the planet)
Without these top predators, the imbalance in the food chains would result in an overabundance of the organism that eats phytoplankton and other microscopic algae
Phytoplankton and marine algae produce 70% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere
We all need phytoplankton to survive because they produce oxygen, so its important to keep the ocean’s healthy by protecting sharks
Our team at Jaws & Paws is currently working on a project to help stop shark finning, because over 120 species of sharks are threatened by extinction and shark finning is an enormous contribution to their plight. Sharks have been at the top of the food chain of the world’s most important ecosystem for over 450 million years. They're vital for the survival of all living creatures because sharks are integral in maintaining balance in the ocean’s ecosystems. The health of the ocean is essential to our own survival because the ocean provides ⅓ of the world’s food, 70% of our oxygen, and it controls the temperature of the atmosphere. Therefore, it is crucial that we pay attention to the state of the ocean as a whole, and due to the absence of sharks there have been drastic effects on many marine ecosystems. Obliterating our ocean's top predators also has effects on people; economically, culturally, and environmentally. Billions of the worlds population relies on the ocean for a food source or income. A prime example of an absence of sharks correlating with a depletion in fishery presence was in Florida. An entire shellfish fishery in the U.S. collapsed from a decline in shark populations, because cow-nose ray populations weren’t regulated by sharks, causing the rays to eat all the shellfish. This resulted in many people losing their jobs and had cascading effects on other species in the area because fishermen came up short in their weekly catches. Similar instances occurred in Belize, the mid-Atlantic, and Hong Kong. Although we do not know the exact effects of declining shark populations for the future, we know that they will be detrimental.
Without sharks we can predict that the oceans would be very sparse, fisheries would be depleted, and many species would die out because these incredible creatures are regulators in the food chain that keep populations stable so they don’t overpopulate and exploit resources. Removing top predators out of an ecosystem has cascading effects and can cause many smaller organisms to become extinct due to lack of predatory regulation and ecosystem health. This decrease in biodiversity from shark finning can result in organisms known as phytoplankton to die out, which will be detrimental for our own lives since these microscopic algae produce over 70% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.
What is Jaws & Paws doing to help?
1. Research: We are continuously researching the effects of declining shark populations in areas where they are being killed for their fins. It is essential to gather as much information as possible to plead our case to policy makers, socialmedia, and people in general.
2. Awareness: Developing social media campaigns to get the youth involved and bring attention to the issue; including the creation and promotion of many PSA's showcasing the true nature of sharks and why its important to preserve them.
3. Outreach: Partnering with organizations and companies in areas where sharks are being killed and providing educational tools to teach about why sharks are crucial for our world. Encouraging ecotourism in these areas is vital as well. We have found that when fisherman utilize their boats to take tourists out to see sharks, they make twice as much money than when they kill them for their fins. In Mexico, a Whale Shark can be worth up to $4.5 million dollars in its lifetime because of tourism - where as killing a whale shark will make you only a couple of hundred dollars in one instant. Its crucial to teach fisherman and locals in these areas that ecotourism is the answer. Not only is it safer and more economically beneficial, but it also protects endangered wildlife from being killed. People protect what they love.
4. Long Term Project: Jaws and Paws is also working to raise money to buy sustainable fishing nets. These nets will limit shark finning in countries where it is common, and enable fishermen to catch seafood without harming the environment. Instead of killing sharks they will have sustainable nets that will allow them to maximize their profit to obtain the actual seafood they desire and stop shark finning.
Social Media Campaign to spread awareness to the issue
Developing PSA’s with celebrities to target areas where shark finning/shark fin soup consumption is prominent (China, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Taiwan, U.S.A., Ecuador, Mexico)
Raising funds to buy sustainable fishing nets (so fishermen don’t have to resort to shark finning)
Administering a petition to prevent the legalization of shark finning in Costa Rica that will be sent to government representatives
Raising funds to provide educational books on the ocean, sharks, and sustainability to give out to kids in areas where shark finning/shark fin soup consumption is prominent
What YOU can do to help!
Check out our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to learn more about sharks with our weekly shark fact.
Learn more about shark finning by seeing the videos under our projects tab!
Spread the word about shark finning to your friends.
Sign our STOP shark finning campaign. All signatures will be sent to Costa Rican representatives because shark finning may be legalized there very soon!
Post a photo/video to twitter, instagram, or facebook taking the ‘Jaws & Paws’ Stop shark finning pledge (All you have to do is say “I promise to never consume shark fin soup because sharks are essential to the health of the oceans and our environment as a whole.”)
Donate! All proceeds will fund our projects to help ban shark finning worldwide. (educational books for children, sustainable nets, PSA funding).
Climate change is becoming an enormous threat to all species on this planet, but it seems to have the most detrimental impact on large predators who live in colder climates. Global warming is so harmful to these animals because it reduces the amount of ice that marine predators utilize for hunting grounds. Sea ice dynamics indicate that Polar Bears’ hunting patterns are reliant on the movement of ice. Without the presence of ice, Polar Bears have no opportunity for hunting. Therefore, many die from being malnourished. Polar Bears are at the top of the Arctic food chain and are considered a keystone species. A keystone species is a species that affects its surrounding ecosystem so much, that if their populations were removed it would effect every organism negatively in the whole habitat. Polar Bears essentially act as indicators of the health of an ecosystem. The decline in Polar Bear populations has negatively influenced the Arctic food chain, because they maintain balanced populations of seal and other prey. Without their maintenance, seal numbers increase dramatically, in turn decreasing fish populations and the total productivity of the surrounding area. A decrease in productivity causes there to be less oxygen in an ecosystem, and this effects the biodiversity of a habitat dramatically. Threats include; over-fishing, climate change, toxic pollution, and oil or gas extraction.
What do polar bears eat
* Polar bears are carnivores that feed on a variety of prey
* Seals are their #1 choice of food (ringed and bearded seals) but sometimes they even eat beluga whales, walruses, or bird eggs
Where do Polar Bears live?
* Polar bears live in Arctic habitats
* They can be found in Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway
Why protect them?
* Polar Bears are keystone predators that maintain a balance in their surrounding ecosystems
* Polar Bears help control populations of prey and smaller species in the Arctic, where climate change is prominent
* Arctic seals are a major food source for Polar Bears, and with a decline in bears their numbers will explode
* An excess of Arctic Seals can result in a loss of many fish species that humans in Arctic areas rely on for food
* Climate Change has already resulted in the decrease of various Arctic species, and the decline in Polar Bear populations will only speed up this process
* An estimated 66% of polar bears will disappear by the year 2050 if we don’t take action now (according to a USGS survey)