My Endangered Species Is Better Than YoursPosted by on Aug 30, 2010 in Featured, Uncategorized • 2 comments
By Tali Vardi
Sad statistics are a dime a dozen when it comes to endangered species research. Add this one regarding Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata) to your list: “in the few locations where quantitative data are available (e.g., Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas, Belize, Jamaica and the U.S.V.I.), declines in abundance (coverage and colony numbers) are estimated at >97%.” — Acropora Biological Review Team. 2005.
Blah blah blah. Who cares, right? The same could be said of hundreds of endangered species, and still more unlisted species, but here’s why you should care more about Acropora palmata as an endangered species, than, maybe, let’s say Pandas. Yeah, I said that.
Sorry Pandas, but while you are busy eating down your shrinking bamboo forest habitat, MY endangered species builds habitat. All by its brave little self. There is no other large branching coral, that can tolerate the rough shallow water environment where Elkhorns live. AND there is no other Caribbean coral that grows large branches creating a complex environment, full of nooks and crannies for fish, snails, shrimp, and countless (literally – we have no idea how many species live in these environments) other species. THESE SPECIES WILL ALSO BECOME ENDANGERED IF THEY HAVE NO HABITAT. DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Acropora 1, Panda 0. And that’s based purely on existence value. There is also the “people” argument, and the “ecosystem services” argument.
“Fish constitutes a traditional element of the diet of most Caribbean people and cannot be easily substituted by other foods.” (United Nations, Food and Agricultural Organization Report 1985)Elkhorns large wavy gravy interlocking branching structure traditionally formed thickets, which halted wave energy, protecting other habitats (e.g. mangroves, sea grass beds, shorelines) as well as houses and other shoreline structures.
Acropora 3, Panda 0.
So next time you’re writing to your congressperson or senator quibbling about which endangered species should get more funding. HA! Just kidding! Did you know that when a species is listed as endangered NO FUNDING IS AUTOMATICALLY RELEASED? Rather, the relevant agencies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries) must lobby congress for funding. Imagine. You are an architect, you make a salary of $30,000/year. You have been asked to create a building for your company. You must build the building or you’ll be fired. You have to ask for money for building materials. Unless you are rebuilding the Empire State Building or Eiffel Tower, the answer is often, “work with the budget you have”. So now you are building with paper clips, and scotch tape. Nice building.
So unless your species is some variety of panda bear, good luck. And some species do more than look cute and eat bamboo, they build habitat for other species, they slow down wave energy protecting homes from hurricane destruction, they provide nurseries for fish that can later be harvested. But let’s forget the quibbling, and simply write our congress people. Tell them that you care about endangered species (especially Elkhorn Coral!) and you’d like to see them do something about it. They have NO WAY of knowing how you feel if you don’t tell them. Right?
Find your representative. https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
Find your senator, on the top right. http://www.senate.gov/
Write an effective letter. http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/letterscongress.htm
Atlantic Acropora Status Review Document. Report to National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office. March 3, 2005. 152 p + App.
http://www.fao.org/docrep/t8365e/t8365e04.htm#1.2 characteristics of consumption in the region