The photo that inspired me to find out what happened to the natural fiber rope trade, once dominated by Philippine “Manila Hemp”

While reading about the 2014 International Coastal Clean-up Day I came across this beach clean-up photo by Kip Evans.

plastic rope debris photo by Kip Evans

The image — and knowing something about ghost nets in our oceans — had me curious about marine trash washed up on the beach and remaining in our oceans, and specifically, when the world switched from using biodegradable natural fiber fish nets and ropes (photos below) to synthetic or plastic, petrochemical-based ropes.

In the process, I learned how the Philippine fiber, abaca, known as “Manila hemp” dominated the natural fiber rope industry starting in the mid 1800’s…

abaca hemp warehouse Manila late 1800s

Traders at abaca warehouse, Manila, Philippines late 1800’s. Bales of abaca are at bottom right of photograph. Photo source: The Philippine Islands by Ramon Reyes Lala via the Gutenberg website, published in 1898 by the Continental Publishing Company.

…and how a material invented in the 1930’s and originally designed as a fabric to replace women’s silk stockings signaled the decline of abaca / Manila hemp as a prime material for the natural rope and cordage industry.

Interested in a bit of history?  Link to the article on Native Leaf’s blog here (The switch from natural fiber abaca, hemp ropes to synthetic ropes).

Related Links:

California the first U.S. state to ban single-use plastic bags

California Flag

The California State Flag, adopted in 1911.

California is the most populous state in the U.S….and its citizens use a whole lot of single-use plastic bags — about 14 billion bags yearly.

Thanks to a new bill signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown today, we can at least dramatically cut our plastic bag use and prevent single-use plastic bags from going into our landfills (since most bags are not recycled) and more important, decrease (and eventually eliminate!) escaped plastic bags that mar our beautiful landscape.

Having a statewide ban protects the environment of the state of California from this needless trash, and now, smaller cities / municipalities do not have to create their own ordinances…it’s done, and the entire state is covered!

The bill — SB 270 — is the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bag.

“This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” said Governor Brown. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

More from the Governor’s website:

The legislation, authored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), prohibits grocery stores and pharmacies from distributing single-use plastic bags after July 2015 and enacts the same ban for convenience stores and liquor stores the following year. It will also provide up to $2 million in competitive loans – administered by CalRecycle – to businesses transitioning to the manufacture of reusable bags.

…“I applaud Governor Brown for signing SB 270 into law. He continues to lead our state forward with a commitment to sustainability. A throw-away society is not sustainable. This new law will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that litter our communities and harm our environment each year. Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense. Governor Brown’s signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs,” said Senator Padilla.

California coast from above web

Southern California coastline. Photo LolaKo.com

“The California coast is a national treasure and a calling card for the world, helping us attract visitors and business from around the globe. Removing the harmful blight of single-use plastic bags, especially along our coastline and waterways, helps ensure the kind of clean and healthy environment we need to have a stronger economy and a brighter future,” said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.  Continue reading…

This is the start of what will hopefully be a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags.

California coast web

My grandsons Jun and Gabriel walking on the beach this summer. We spent a lot of time on the beach this summer!

The California coast covers 840 miles (1,350 km), and 15 of California’s 58 counties directly face the Pacific Ocean.  This statewide plastic bag ban is a major step towards protecting our environment and the ocean’s creatures that ingest plastics by accident — like the Pacific leatherback turtle mistaking plastic for jellyfish and other food.

Print

6 degrees pictogram via Ocean Conservancy — No matter where you live, trash can travel from your hands to storm drains to streams and to the sea.

Proud to live in California right now with this first ever statewide plastic bag ban.

I’ll end this post with this quote about the ban from Nathan Weaver of Environment California :

“This important step forward shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” said Nathan Weaver, Oceans Advocate with Environment California. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.”  

Philippine President on Global Security, China and Climate Change

9023_aquino-jeremy1

Photo via Here & Now website: Jeremy Hobson speaks with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in Boston. (Samantha Fields/Here & Now)

Climate change is a reality.  The Philippines has experienced strange weather patterns over the last few years — typhoons in November / December when they normally end by September.

The November, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan (called “Yolanda” in the Philippines) was the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record and one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded.

The Philippines is a member of the United Nations (UN) Commission on Climate Change, and President Benigno Aquino spoke at the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23, 2014.

The day before he spoke at the Summit, President Aquino was interviewed by Jeremy Hobson on the public radio program Here and Now

In case you missed it, here are links to the broadcast…worth a listen, covering global security and climate change as it relates to the Philippines and the U.S – Philippines relationship.

Interview excerpt:

On the threat of climate change for the Philippines

“If you look at the maps, especially for storms coming from the Pacific side, it seems like we’re a gateway to the rest of Asia.”

“For instance, Typhoon Haiyan. We don’t get typhoons in December. They normally end by September. A typhoon happening in October is considered a late event. Having a major typhoon in December (and this has happened for practically ever year that I’ve been in office) … is truly alarming to us.

“Even the planting cycles, which are really very dependent on weather — there seems to be a return to normal this year — but for the past few years they kept on changing, which affects the food security, not only for us, but for a whole range of other countries.”

Note: If you cannot play President Benigno Aquino’s interview from this page, link to the Here and Now program’s web page, here.

Liberated from laundry? Humanity and my take on this week’s photo challenge

We walked to the river carrying everything we needed to do the laundry…from the bundles of clothes and wash basins balanced on top of our heads, the bars of soap, the pot of rice, bananas and other food we will cook and eat while we wait for the warm sun to dry the clothes on the rocks.

This was laundry day when I was a kid and lived in the province (away from the city). Since my younger sister and I were still little, we played and splashed in the water while the other women in our household went about the task of washing clothes.

Fast forward decades later, I am  back to the Philippines, and while stopped over a bridge to take in the view, I look below and see a scene from my childhood…women washing clothes by the river.

Laundry day 3 web

I am nostalgic and remember the fun we had playing in the river during laundry day — rearranging rocks to form our own little swimming pools and creating dams to capture fish and freshwater shrimps.

Then I thought, wait….I am a grandmother now…why are these women STILL doing laundry this way?

My take on this week’s WordPress photo challenge are photos about something we share as modern humans..that is, we all wear clothes, and these clothes need to be washed.

Laundry day 2a web

How we go about doing laundry though is a symbol of how developed the area is where we live, and how much time is available to women.

Here in the US, over 80% of households have clothes washers (even almost a decade ago, based on the these stats from the US Department of Energy):

Percent clothes washer stats US

For poor households, over 60% still had clothes washers…and anyone can go to laundromat to wash clothes.

We take for granted the clean running water we have access to, and the machines that liberate us from tedious tasks, like washing clothes.

Laundry day 5 web

How often is this scene still repeated around the world daily?  Imagine how liberated human beings  — particularly women — can be, simply by having a  machine that we take for granted here in the US.

Laundry day 4 web

It may not be something we ever think about, but to me, how laundry is done around the world is an indicator of progress.

And the work towards eradicating poverty worldwide — so that everyone has access to the tools, and yes, machinery — to allow us more time to live a good life and express ourselves is part of what defines our humanity.

To see beautiful humanity inspired photographs and other imaginative takes on the challenge, visit the WordPress Photo Challenge Site. 

For more on why I think there is still so much poverty in my home country of the Philippines, see my post Chameleons: Why Filipinos live and work in just about every country in the world.

Plastic: Now available in your…beer?

Beer now available with plastic

Beer…now available infused with plastic bits!

Plastic trash is found even at remote locations on our planet.  And now, a new study finds that little bits of plastic — perhaps remnants of our trash — can be found in beer, too!

Note: The study was conducted in Germany, a country where beer is a huge part of the culture and culinary history.  The Germans have brewed ale style beer for over 3,000 years.

From the Grist article, Beer: a magical mixture of hops, barley, and tiny pieces of plastic: Excerpt:

…This is how the study worked: Researchers lab-tested samples of 24 varieties of German beers, including 10 of the nation’s most popular brands. Through their superpowers of microscopic analysis, the team discovered plastic microfibers in 100 percent of the tested beer samples.

Reads the study:

“The small numbers of microplastic items in beer in themselves may not be alarming, but their occurrence in a beverage as common as beer indicates that the human environment is contaminated by micro-sized synthetic polymers to a far-reaching extent.”

It’s not breaking news that plastics don’t just vanish into the ether when we’re finished with them. Unless you haven’t heard, in which case … BREAKING NEWS: The plastics we use today will stick around longer than your great-great-great-great (and then some) grandchildren. 

Grandchildren at beach summer 2014

My grandsons enjoying the beach while their Lola (grandmother) enjoys the sunset, summer 2014 on the central coast of California

Sadly, it is not surprising at all to learn about the findings of this study. We already know about the plastic and trash vortex (now the size of Texas) in the North Pacific and of the trash contaminating the deepest of our planet’s oceans.

We are careless about plastic trash.  So why wouldn’t plastics eventually end up in our beverages?

All you have to do is look outside your car window the next time you are stuck in traffic. See that plastic bottle on the side of the road?  And look above…see that plastic bag up on that tree branch…plastic trash dot our landscape, no matter where we live.

And if you live near the water, that trash you saw by the roadside can end up in our waterways, and eventually turn into tiny particles that end up right back into your water source. Yummy!

Please be mindful of plastic trash….recycle, use alternatives, bring your reusable bags to the store, and most of all, let’s all do our best to control our plastic trash and not let it get into our oceans.

Let’s fix what we can for the health of our planet…and for our grandchildren.

Also see LolaKo.com post:

On thFrancis-Malasig-photo-philippine plastic trash probleme burden of civilization’s excess

About plastic trash problems in the Philippines (river of trash photo after typhoon by Francis R. Malasig via 5gyres.org)

 

plastic trim on walis tambo broomFrom the Native Leaf blog, post on when plastic use is totally unnecessary

…Before the advent of plastic strapping materials and plastic trim, these brooms were made entirely from natural materials — and the entire broom would have been biodegradable.

book_plastic_greyLolako.com post Plastic Rich / Plastic Poor on Susan Freinkel’s book, Plastic, A Toxic Love Story. Foreign editions in Australia, China, Korea, Spain and Taiwan – Link to Ms. Freinkel’s website, here.

Lola Jane’s post excerpt: I am part of this plastics generation — and problem — and feel propelled into doing something, before it is too late.

The question is…what can I do…how do I get the word out?

 

International Literacy Day

Intl Literacy DayToday, Monday, September 8th is International Literacy Day.

Most of us take being able to read and literacy for granted…but worldwide, there are still 781 million adults who are illiterate (more than DOUBLE the population of the entire United States).

  “Literacy is a key lever of change and a practical tool of empowerment on each of the three main pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection.”  Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan

Here are the statistics from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):

UNESCO illiteracy table

And from UNESCO on why literacy is important…

Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy.

Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all, and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy…

A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities… continue reading

Also see Third Eye Mom’s blog post about READ Global  — and where I first viewed the beautiful video below on READ’s program in Bhutan…excerpt:

READ (Rural Education and Development) Global, a not-for-profit organization based in San Francisco, changed the future by opening their first READ Center, a community library and resource center that teaches people to read. Before READ began working in Bhutan, the country had only one public lending library in the entire country. Today, there are five READ centers reaching over 37,000 rural villagers creating a culture of reading and providing access to information and resources to help farmers, children and women’s empowerment…

The statistics regarding illiteracy are heartbreaking:

    • 17% of children in the developing world will not enroll in primary school
    • 39% of South Asia is illiterate.
    • 50% of women in South Asia are illiterate.
    • On average, kids only go through 4.7 years of schooling in South Asia (continue reading)

View this inspiring video on creating a culture of reading…

Great work READ Global!

Seeing the type of work that organizations like READ Global is doing, I believe we can further use technology to good use and bridge the gap and enormous disparity between modern libraries (see post from yesterday) and new libraries in developing countries —- and achieve goals of reducing illiteracy rates worldwide! What about you?

Related LolaKo.com post:

Otters in the Philippines (Asian short-clawed otters)

I adore sea otters and have posted several articles / photos / videos about California sea otters on my blog.  Until recently — and although I grew up in the Philippines — I did not know there were otters in the Philippines, too.

California Sea Otter - Photo by my grandson (then 8 years old) Jun-Jun

California Sea Otter – Photo by my grandson (then 8 years old) Jun-Jun

It turns out that sea otters are found not only along the coastal areas of the Pacific Ocean in North America but also in parts of Asia.

Philippine Map Source US State Department

Map Source: US Department of State

In the Philippines, otters live in the Palawan area, on the western part of the archipelago.

There is not much information about Philippine otters posted on-line, not even within the comprehensive National Geographic website.

And I could not find information on exactly how many otters are left in the wild in Palawan or anything else about their current status.

So far, here is what I did find:

From Arkive.org:

The Asian short-clawed otter has a large distribution, ranging from north-western and south-western India, through southern China (including Hainan) and the Malay Peninsula, to Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Riau Archipelago (Indonesia), and Palawan Island in the Philippines.

The Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) list Asian sea otters in the “Threatened” category.  

Specifically, Asian sea otters are listed as “Vulnerable” under the IUCN Red list.

As with other wildlife vulnerable to or facing extinction in the Philippines, the threats to  otters include deforestation, pollution, humans destroying the otters and their natural habitats (e.g., turning mangroves into aquaculture farms).

Compared to the sea otters we see here on the central California coast, the Philippine otter is much smaller. This video from Diana J. Limjoco’s blog shows 3 young Philippine otters brought to her Palawan home by locals.

The otters on this video — like most otters — are truly adorable.  I am curious about how they are doing, especially health-wise living among the other domesticated pets in the household.

I am also curious if there is a program in the Philippines established to care for orphaned otters so they can be re-introduced back into the wild (as the topic of the film Saving Otter 501 — shown on the PBS show Nature).

In neighboring countries of Malaysia and Singapore, otters are totally protected by the government.  In the Philippines, Republic Act # 9147 (2001) prohibits the killing, collection, possession, and maltreatment of wildlife.

But if locals do not know about the R.A. 9147 law or how special and rare these creatures are, and if there is no funding to enforce the law or do public service announcements (PSAs), then the law is useless in terms of saving remaining Philippine otters.

There was a blog started by Philippine otter researchers called “Palawan Otters” (Lyca Sandrea G. Castro) but it may be abandoned as there were only a few post, and not any new information since last year.  I hope they are continuing their research and will post new information on the blog soon.  (NOTE – as of September, 2014, Ms. Castro has revived the blog — YAY!!! I have added the “protecting otters” poster from the Palawan Otters blog at the bottom of this post.)

Here is another video of Asian small-clawed otters at the Wellington Zoo in New Zealand playing with a pebble, via Wikipedia commons.

When I think of poverty issues facing many Filipinos it seems that my interest and focus on endangered animals are inconsequential.  What is the point of learning about these animals and writing a blog post if they are so close to the edge of extinction.  What difference is it going to make…

I suppose there is always hope, and I am again reminded of the 1968 quote from Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum:

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand.  We will understand only what we are taught.”

Sometimes, endangered wildlife are killed simply due to a lack of understanding of their role in our ecosystem, or by necessity, caught for food…it is as basic as that, and goes back to poverty issues.

The same problems that cause wildlife to become extinct — pollution from pesticides, loss of their habitat due to illegal activities that degrade the environment — are issues that also make people vulnerable to other disasters. So I don’t think we have a choice…we have to learn about endangered wildlife and how their loss affects our ecosystem, and spread the word.  It can only improve our prospect for saving our environment and perhaps make the difference for future inhabitants of our planet.

UPDATE:  As I was getting ready to publish this post, I googled “Philippine Wildlife Act 9147 sea otters” and found a comprehensive paper written by Jeric Bocol Gonzalez titled Distribution Exploitation and Trade Dynamics of A.cinereus in Mainland Palawan, Philippines.  Published in 2010, the situation did not look promising for rare Philippine sea otters back then!  Does anyone have any new information since publication of Jeric’s thesis?

Otter Protection Photo from Palawan Otter Blog

Click on the photo to link to Palawan Otters blog

Other (Sea) Otter posts on LolaKo.com:

And for more about California sea otters, see The Otter Project. and the Monterey Bay Aquarium website page Sea Otters as Risk.

Related endangered wildlife posts:

LAST NOTE:  If you want more information about otters in other parts of the world, visit the IUCN’s Otter Specialist Group website (where I found Jeric Gonzalez’s paper).

Turtle Tunes and the Giant Pacific Leatherback

There is a lot we do know about the hundreds of species of turtles living on our planet. Except that is….how they sound or vocalize.  

Papers published in the 1950’s claimed that turtles were deaf and did not vocalize.  So until recently, and because of this false assumption, no one studied turtle vocalizations. From mongabay.com….

Two new studies published recently in Chelonian Conservation and Biology and Herpetologica find that two turtle species vocalize when they reproduce and during some social interactions, and that their vocalizations are many and varied.   

Leatherback sea turtles are the largest turtles living today. Photo by Tiffany Roufs.  Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0725-morgan-turtletalk.html#IR3v7DoAVuTo2xUF.99

California’s official marine reptile is the giant Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle. Leatherback sea turtles are the largest turtles living today. Photo by Tiffany Roufs via mongabay.com

The studies respectively looked at two very different species: giant Amazon river turtles (Podocnemis expansa) and leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). They found that the river turtles vocalized in all sorts of situations, from interactions between adults to hatchling communication. Leatherbacks, less social turtles, were also found to vocalize as when hatching and as they dispersed from their nests into the sea. Read more 

Interesting…and a reminder that just because we humans can’t hear certain creatures making sounds, it does not mean they are not making them.

it took decades to dispel the belief that turtles are deaf and did not vocalize…and most scientists tuned out ever studying their vocalizations all because of published literature dating back from the 1950’s.

Related Lolako.com posts — especially on the giant Pacific Leatherback turtle (California’s official marine reptile) :

Did you know…Elephants also vocalize in super low frequencies that humans can’t hear.  Low frequency sounds travel farther, making them better for long distance communication (see more about forest elephant vocalization here – The Cornell Lab Elephant Listening Project).

Yes, California is STILL in a drought emergency…so how about fake lawns, anyone?

California Drought 2014 web

Brown is the new green?  Brown grass — or alternatives to green lawns — SHOULD be the new normal for many lawns in California.

It’s been over six months since California declared a drought emergency with the goal of reducing 20% of our water use.

Instead, water use actually increased this year!

How is this possible?  Many areas of California closed out year 2013 as the driest in recorded history.  

Yet three years into this drought — and despite wide local (and National) media coverage and attention — water use has gone up.

Do people not watch the news, don’t care, are selfish and do not see this drought as a real and long-term problem? Are there not enough Public Service Announcements (PSAs) or are people ignoring the PSAs?

It could be too that unlike floods, fires or other emergencies, drought is gradual…so as long as water comes out of our faucets and water hoses, perhaps we don’t think of it as a real emergency?

A couple of days ago, California’s State Water Resources Control Board approved regulations to allow local law and water organizations to fine water wasters up to $500 per day (e.g., for hosing down sidewalks, washing cars with free-flowing hoses, excessive lawn watering).

I wonder if the threat of a $500 fine will make a difference.  What will it take to get the point to California residents that we are in a serious situation.  Is it because water is too inexpensive for the average California consumer?

Near our neighborhood a new lawn made from artificial grass is in process of getting installed…

Are your neighbors doing something similar or xeriscaping — installing llandscapes or gardens that minimizes or eliminates water needs?

I have always disliked plastic plants and especially plastic flowers.  Yes, most real flowers are ephemeral (except for orchids that can last for months) but isn’t that the point…that some things should be enjoyed in their moment and life cycle?

So how about a fake (no water EVER needed) lawn?

I suppose if you absolutely must have a green front yard…this one looks pretty close to the real thing.

replacing grass lawns web

I think we will go to the nearest park though, if I really must be surrounded by manicured green grass.  Just can’t get past adding all that plastic around a home…  How about you?

Related Links: California Department of Water Resources and Sunset Magazine article Should you fake the lawn?

Mosquito bites and the chickungunya virus

A viral disease called chickungunya is now being spread by mosquitoes in the US.   Oh great…one more thing to worry about with mosquito bites.

Types of mosquitos spreading CHIKV virus

Chikungunya (CHIKV) is transmitted via the bite of an infected mosquito. Most common are the mosquito types on this photos (Aedes spp., predominantly Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus).  These mosquitos are the same type that spread dengue fever.  They bite in the daytime.  Photo via CDC website.

Have you heard about chickungunya?

The first outbreak of the disease was in southern Tanzania in 1952.  The name ‘chikungunya’ is from a word in the Kimakonde language (spoken in southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique) that means “to become contorted” or “that which bends up”.

It describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain.  Signs and symptoms also include a sudden start of fever often accompanied by joint pain. Other symptoms are muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. The joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually lasts for a few days.

Most infected patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several weeks or months, or even years.  The good news is that deaths from chikungunya are rare.

Countries where chikungunya virus transmitted

Countries where chikungunya virus transmitted – map via the US CDC

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chikungunya (CHIKVI) has occurred in Africa, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

In late 2013, CHIKVI was found for the first time on islands in the Caribbean.

chik-inbound-english-tSince then, CHIKVI has been found in multiple countries or territories in the Caribbean, Central America, or South America, and now in the US.

NOTE: In California, the mosquito Aedes albopictus (one of the types that spread CHIKV) are found in Southern and Central California.

Its habitat are small containers and old tires.

As there are no known vaccine or medication, the CDC advice is to reduce your exposure by:

There are currently no antiviral medicines to treat the chikungunya virus. However, there are medicines to reduce the fever and pain experienced by those exposed to the virus.  For more details, visit the CDC’s website about chikungunya, here.

yellow fever mosquito

Photo via montereycountymosquito.com

Also visit Monterey County Mosquito website, here:  Excerpt:

The yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti is a mosquito that can spread the dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever viruses, and other diseases. The mosquito can be recognized by white markings on legs and a marking in the form of a lyre on the thorax. The mosquito originated in Africa but is now found in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, now including many parts of California.

And by the way, there is also a measles outbreak now, which originated in the Philippines!  Over forty-thousand cases were reported in the Philippines between January to May, 2014.  More on the measles outbreak, here, including information on what travelers can do to protect themselves if traveling to the Philippines.

Blog post information source from the U.S. CDC and World Health Organization (WHO)

My encounter with a (not so scary) California snake

Backyard snake Monterey County CA 1

I’m sure my intense fear of snakes stems from an  encounter with a huge snake when I was around 5 years old.

We lived near a rice field in the province of Bulacan (Luzon island in the Philippines).

While I was in the outhouse (an outdoor bathroom) by myself, the snake crept inside through the gap between the bamboo door and the dirt floor.

I froze in fear, and then let out the loudest scream I could summon.  Shortly after, I heard my mother running towards me and then right outside the outhouse door.

I was too frightened to move and unhinge the door, so my mother had to break the door to get to me — and not so easy to do as she was in the late stage of being pregnant with my brother.

Perhaps because of my screaming, or maybe it was really interested or following something else, the snake was gone by the time my mother got through the door.

Rice Fields and mountain background

Rice fields in the Philippines, coconut trees and mountain backdrop. Photo Lolako.com

Since venomous sakes — including the Philippine spitting cobra, one of the most venomous snakes in the world — often hunt for rodents in rice fields near where we lived, a group of neighbors, with their machetes firmly in hand, formed a line at the rice fields behind the outhouse to look for the snake.  I can’t remember if they caught it.

Rice-Field-Almost-Ready-for-Harvest

Many decades later…I am (understandably!) still afraid of snakes.  I am not fearful of spiders, or bees or most bugs really…but when I think of snakes and sharks...the feeling of fear is immediate.

And it turns out that even people without a conscious fear of snakes are wired to react fearfully to snakes because snakes were among the earliest threats and predators to human beings.

A few days ago, my 9-year-old grandson Jun found a 2 1/2 foot long snake skin in the backyard.  Fascinated, he was holding it stretched above his head when he came over to show me his find.

And this morning, as I was coming from the driveway, here is what I encountered…

Pacific Gopher Snake in Monterey County

I now know that snakes are important to our ecosystem...so instead of running away and screaming, I grabbed my camera and took a photo (thank you zoom lens) so I could learn more about this snake living near our home.

Pacific Gopher Snake range in California

A visit to the California Herps website’s picture gallery made it easy to identify the snake.

It is a Pacific Gopher snake and harmless to human beings.  It is found in a wide range in the state of California, as shown in red shade on the map at left.

Because gopher snakes are sometimes mistaken for more dangerous rattlesnakes, they are killed unnecessarily.

The California Herps website notes:

It is easy to avoid this mistake by learning to tell the difference between the two families of snakes as shown in these signs.

Unless you have experience handling venomous snakes, you should never handle a snake unless you are absolutely sure that it is not dangerous.

rattlesnake vs gopher snakeHere are some interesting snake facts:

Worldwide:

map of world distribution of snakes

map of world distribution of sea snakes and land snakes via Wikipedia

  • Snakes are found in every continent except Antarctica (see Life is short, but snakes are long blog post on the most widespread snakes in the world)
  • Most snake bites occur in agricultural and tropical regions
  • There are 3,000 known species of snakes — of which, only 15% are considered as dangerous to people.
  • Most snake related deaths occur in South Asia, with India reporting the most deaths of any country (this would make sense though, as India is the most populous country in South Asia).
  • Worldwide, snake bites are most common during the summer when people are outdoors and when snakes are most active

In the USA from the wanderingherpetologist.com

  • There are more casualties in the United States due to car accidents (37,594), lightning strikes (54), and dog attacks (21) each year than from venomous snakebites (5).
  • Approximately 7,000-8,000 people are envenomated each year in the United States but there is only an average of 5 casualties
  • In Texas alone, there were more casualties in 2005 from drowning (308), firearms/hunting (79), and venomous arthropods (16) than venomous snakebites.

In California

  • CaliforniaHerps.com- a guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of California is a super website with loads of information, pictures and useful links.  Visit the page on what kind of reptiles and amphibians might live near your home and how to encourage them to stay there, by clicking here.

I am less fearful of snakes since I learned that most snakes are NOT dangerous to humans, and that most snake bites to humans are caused by snakes that are NOT venomous.

Remember though, unless you are a snake expert,  it is best to leave lots of room between you and any snake you may encounter…and don’t kill snakes!

Further reading and resources:

Related post about animals (and endangered animals) from Lola Jane (click on photo to link to article)

Sierran Tree Frog profilePost about the Sierran Tree Frog (photo by Lola Jane)

…It is comforting to know the little frogs survive in our backyard, despite the large presence of big business agriculture in our county (Monterey is the only county in the United States with more than 1 BILLION in annual vegetable sales).

 

Leatherback-turtle-found-dead-off-leyteAbout the Giant Pacific Leatherback Turtle and the connection between Indonesia / the Philippines and Monterey Bay, California)

Photo by Austin Don Perez for Bayan Mo, iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula, via post by Iloed.C at www.skyscrapercity.com

 

Philippine-Eagle-Close-up-photo1On the critically endangered and magnificent Philippine eagle (Photograph by Klaus Nigge – www.nigge.com)  ...the Philippine Eagle, pithecophaga jefferyi – and referred to as “haring ibon” or king bird.  It is among the rarest and most powerful birds in the world.  In 1995, it was designated as the national bird as well as an official  symbol of the Philippines.

Shark-photo-Sean-Van-SommeranPost about Sharks!

The photo is of a 4,000 lb shark tagged in Santa Cruz, California and caught by accident in the Sea of Cortez area, Mexico.  Photo Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, contributed by Sean VanSommeran.

Also see comparison of shark attacks vs. lightning fatalities on the US Coast

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand.  We will understand only what we are taught.”
— Baba Dioum

Chameleons? Why Filipinos live & work in just about every country in the world

The words “why are Filipinos like chameleons” showed up on my blog’s search engine terms recently.

Chameleon definition

Mixed-Up-Chameleon by Eric CarleI did not write an article (until now) that connected the two words — Filipino and chameleon — but I do write often about Filipinos and the Philippines, wildlife, and about a particular chameleon, as in the Eric Carle book that I read to my grandchildren, The Mixed-Up Chameleon.

Initially I thought the search words were funny.  Chameleons — a special kind of lizard — are not native to the Philippines.  And then I wondered what information was sought…was this inquiry and the string of words derogatory?

And are Filipinos like chameleons? We Filipinos do tend to blend in, don’t we?   We all speak English (very well — and most with a clear American accent) and since English is one of the most popular language in the world, all that much easier to blend in, right?

Aside from language, is it also because most Filipinos are Christians?  A Pew Research demographics study on global religion found that Christians are the most evenly dispersed around the world and represent the largest percentage among the world’s religion  (2.2 billion or 32% of the world’s majority religion) .

20_religionCountryMap from Pew Research

Graphic on majority religions by country from Pew Research. The Philippine archipelago has the most Christians among countries in Southeast Asia,

I am pretty sure that Filipinos live and work in just about every country in the world — around 10% of the total population, and 2.2 million contract or Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) — according to Philippine government data.

  • When I lived in Germany in the mid 1980’s, one of the first things our landlord, Klaus, wanted to do was to introduce me to the Filipina married to a local German, in our town of Dudeldorf.
  • When we first immigrated to the United States and living in Portland, Maine (of all places, right, and not exactly a hotbed for Filipinos in America) my mother quickly found another Filipina living nearby who befriended us.

So,  super chameleons?  Able to survive in any environment, no matter where on the globe?  Or rather, is it more because we don’t stick out?  The Philippines was a Spanish colony from 1521 to 1898, so most Filipinos have Spanish last names.  Is this another way we blend, since our names are not so unusual?

A friend theorized that because the Philippines is a nation of islands (over 7,000 in case you did not know), Filipinos are accustomed to traveling beyond their own island to the next…and the next, so what is another 5,000 more miles?  It’s in our DNA!  Hmmmn, interesting, and maybe!

Are Filipinos everywhere because they like adventure, because Filipinos like to travel? Is it by necessity, for survival? Because we must…as a sacrifice to contribute financially for the greater good of the family?

In 1980, the Philippines scored higher than China, Thailand and Brazil on the United Nations (UN) Human Development Indicators (HDI). The most recent UN HDI report show these three countries now have higher HDI scores than the Philippines.  And after World War II, the only other country in Asia richer than the Philippines was Japan.

So what happened?  Could it be because the Philippine population has more than DOUBLED in the last 3 decades?.

The Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world, and according to United Nations GDP / per capita income data, over 40% of Filipinos live on less than $2 per day.

These days, I think Filipinos are everywhere primarily because of over population and because the economy cannot support the population…so by necessity.

Every year, millions of Filipinos have no choice but to leave their homeland to find work elsewhere.  Many work in the shipping industries (notice that when cruise lines, or container ships are in the news, often, there are Filipino crew members?)

The Philippines export nurses all over the world.  And most recently, our teachers, too.

It is easier to understand Filipino communities in neighboring countries like Australia, New Zealand, especially Korea and Japan.  But Zambia?  ICELAND, The Isle of Mann?

Tropical Philippines web

Photo of banka (traditional Philippine outrigger boat) Lolako.com. From lush green tropics to….Scandinavia?

And how is it that Filipinos manage to survive, and even thrive in countries with climates and cultures so different from their homes?  And do we — the chameleons —  blend in no matter where we are  because it’s safer if others like us, accept us, include us in their, and what then becomes OUR community?

In Sweden alone, there are over 20 Filipino communities! (see Fincomlas Sweden)

I admire Filipino characteristics — our friendly, caring nature, resilience, our sense of humor, and strong commitment to family  — and yes, maybe the chameleon qualities in a positive sense.  But I do hope that in my lifetime, the majority of Filipinos who live and work overseas will be because of their own choice to do so, and not because they have no other choice.

This post was inspired by a search query on my blog, and turned emotional when I thought of families torn apart and separated for many years due to the economic needs of Filipinos.  I’ll continue to explore more on this topic, and of course to celebrate and remember our food and culture.

In the meantime, if you are a Filipino in a faraway place, please share your experience, or your family’s experience.  Do you think Filipinos are like chameleons?  If so, is this positive or a negative?

Related Lolako.com posts:

Which of California’s 15 coastal counties are tsunami ready?

Despite the 5,000 mile distance between the California coastline and Japan, our coastal community was affected by the March 2011 tsunami (and subsequent disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power facility.)

Moss Landing Beach

Photo Lolako.com

Between debris that washed up on the U.S. Western coastlines — and our worries of radiation contaminated items reaching our shores  —  to the bathtub effect that caused millions of dollars of damage to boats and property at the Santa Cruz harbor, the disaster originating thousands of miles away directly impacted us.  It was another reminder of  how small our world really is, and our interconnectedness …

March-11-Tsunami-Effects-in-Santa-Cruz-Photo-Larissa-Mueller

Sailboats in the Santa Cruz Harbor crash against each other Friday morning as a tsunami surge sucks out muddy, backwater from the upper harbor. Photo by Dan Coyro/Sentinel

My post 2 years ago (Is Monterey County ready for a Tsunami) listed Monterey County –  along with the California counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Orange as TsunamiReady™ — under a program administered by the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS).

Tsunami-Hazard-Warning-Sign3

Tsunami Hazard Zone sign at Monterey County area beach.   Photo Lolako.com

The California counties designated as TsunamiReady™  met NWS criteria, including developing a safety plan, setting up alert systems and promoting tsunami safety through public outreach.

The addition of the counties of Marin, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and San Diego means there are now 8 counties listed as TsunamiReady™ in California.

The state of California is divided into 58 counties. The California coast covers 840 miles (1,350 km), and 15 of California’s 58 counties directly face the Pacific Ocean.  These counties are:

  • Del Norte County
  • Humboldt County
  • Los Angeles County
  • Marin County
  • Mendocino County
  • Monterey County
  • Orange County
  • San Diego County
  • San Francisco County
  • San Luis Obispo County
  • San Mateo County
  • Santa Barbara County
  • Santa Cruz County
  • Sonoma County
  • Ventura County

Counties in bold are listed as TsunamiReady™.  We will follow-up again next year to see if all of California’s coastal counties receive the TsunamiReady™ designation.

Do you live in one of California’s coastal communities?  With this month marking the 3rd anniversary of the Japanese tsunami disaster, do you know — or care — if your community has a TsunamiReady™ designation?

Related LolaKo.com posts:

Drought and the 2014 official California shower

2014 California Shower

This is a somewhat funny graphic on showers during a drought — but it is actually a reality that we need to consider in light of California’s drought emergency.  (Graphic source – Save our Water website)

What do you think?  Skip a shower — shower every other day or two?  Super short showers?

Strigil used by Greeks and Romans web

Photo of ancient shower/bath tool called a strigil

Skipping a shower or two every week may be better for our skin and hair anyway.  There are parts of the world where taking a shower every other day is the norm.

Just as long as we don’t have to skip showers altogether!

Ancient Greeks and Romans used olive oil and this tool called a strigil to clean dirt off (first they rubbed olive oil on their skin, and then scraped away dirt and grime).  Hmmm…

It’s a good thing there are over 400 growers / producers of olive oil in California…oh wait, the drought can adversely affect olive oil production too!   The 2012 drought in Spain — the world’s top olive oil producer — resulted in a huge drop in Spain’s olive oil production, and increased olive oil prices in Europe.

So okay, we will continue to do our part to cut our water use, and hopefully we will not have to revert back to using olive oil and a strigil instead of modern showers.

Showering habits aside, and on a serious note, the drought here in California will affect not only our vegetable crops, but also olive oil, nut and fruit production.  Farmers are already having to pull out or let trees die and expect losses for many crops.

Less nuts and fruits to pick means less work for the agricultural sector, higher prices for everyone...

President Obama is in the Central Valley today with a promise of millions of dollars in aid to help California farmers due to the drought.  He also pledged to speed up federal help that threatens the agriculture industry.

Save Water link to Christian Science articleMore on Obama in California: a pledge of drought aid, climate change planning, from the CSMonitor’s website, here. 

“He’ll offer a message of hope and a message that the federal government will do all that it can to try to alleviate some of the stress connected with this drought,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters Thursday night.

Lolako.com drought-related posts:

If you live in California, how has the drought affected you?  As a resident here, are you making changes to your routines or plan to?

Zero Waste…from the city of San Francsico to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Can you imagine a time when we recycle or compost everything in our household and send NOTHING to landfills or to incineration facilities?

The recycling rate for Americans has increased to 34% compared to less than 10% a few decades ago.  Although we are headed in the right direction, the latest data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on our municipal solid waste indicate there are still millions of tons of trash going to landfills.

Recycling-Bins-at-big conferences

For environmentally progressive cities and businesses, standard recycling programs are not enough.  Zero waste is the new goal and the next step towards protecting our environment and conserving resources for future inhabitants of our planet.

I posted a new article on Native Leaf’s blog about San Francisco — voted the greenest city in North America– and its zero waste goals including how they plan to recycle textiles (because we in the U.S. send 39 million pounds of textile products to landfills each year).  Click here or the photo below to view the blog post.

View of San Francisco from TI rd

Early evening panorama photo of picturesque and environmentally progressive city of San Francisco, California (population 825,863).

Recently, an organization called the U.S. Zero Waste Council awarded its first ever Platinum Certification to the Northern California-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.   Excerpt:

…The goal of businesses participating in the Zero Waste Certification program is to divert all end-use material from landfill, incineration and the environment, while achieving a minimum of 90 percent diversion based on the standards set by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA). Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is exceeding this by 9.8 percent.

Sierra Nevada logoSierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Chico facility received this platinum certification by reaching an amazing 99.8% trash diversion rate!

The sustainability culture at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is established  during the first day of work, when employees are given reusable water bottles and reusable shopping bags.  What a terrific way to set the tone and culture of sustainability…and for how the company works.

In addition to this recognition, Sierra Nevada also received awards from the EPA (Green Business of the Year), PG&E (Clean and Green Award), the state of California’s Waste Reduction Award Program, among their many accolades.

This is one beverage that environmentalist can feel good about drinking!  For more on how Sierra Nevada achieved their 99.8% diversion rate, click here.

What if all major metropolitan cities and corporations set zero waste goals?  With the way things are going and the strange world climate patterns we are experiencing, we may not have a choice….that is, if we want our grandchildren to live in a planet similar to what we now have.

I do wonder if the Philippines’ biggest beer (and largest food company) company, San Miguel is setting sustainability programs…

Related Lolako.com post:

Informative graphic from the U.S. EPA below.  Click on the graphic or here for posters, facts and figures on municipal solid waste in the United States.

EPA Recycling Graphic

Some rain finally, but there is simply not enough to meet water demands in California

California is 2/3 into the wet season, the time of the year when we are supposed to get the most rain.

water drops cling to pine needles after rain

water clings to the tips of pine needles after Wednesday, February 6, 2014 rainstorm

Though we finally have rain — and rain is in the forecast for many parts of California this weekend — it would have to rain every other day until May of this year to get our water to normal levels (see press conference video from California Department of Water Resources at the bottom of this post).

Monterey County Field

Irrigated farm fields, Moss Landing – California Central Coast

With most of California’s water going towards irrigation needs for 10 million acres of farmland, and because California grows nearly half of all fruits, nuts and vegetables in the United States, our worst drought on record will surely have a ripple ffect for the rest of the U.S. in terms of the cost and availability of produce and nuts.

Droughts increase our wildfire and firestorm risks, and as of the end of January, 2014 there were already 400 fires across the state compared to ZERO fires in January of 2013.

And now for the first time in the 54 year history of the California State Water Project (SWP) – the largest state-built and operated multipurpose water and power system in the United States — no water will be released for urban and agricultural uses.  This means that water allocation to all 29 public water agencies in California is being cut from 5% to zero, except for human health and safety needs.

So even with the expected rain this weekend, our state still face severe water problems and California residents need to get serious and creative with water conservation efforts to continue to address our continuing drought emergency.

Water Saving Hero

Water Saving Hero graphic from an Urban Drought Guidebook prepared by the California Department of Water Resources in 2008 (note: website on this graphic is no longer operational)

Related:

Information on the latest in water-efficient technology from faucets to toilet fixtures available on the California Urban Water Conservation Council website

Most recent press conference posted on YouTube from California Department of Water Resources below:

Of interest:

  • California has approximately 100 million acres of land.  Of this total, 43 million acres are used for agriculture (16 million acres are grazing land and 27 million acres are cropland).

The California State Water Project, the largest state-built and operated multipurpose water and power system in the United States, includes 34 storage facilities, 20 pumping plants, four pumping-generating plants, five hydroelectric powerplants, and approximately 701 miles of canals, tunnels, and pipelines including the 444-mile California Aqueduct.  For more, visit the California Department of Water Resources website, here.

hot_topics_smoke-flames

California’s higher than normal temperatures, record driest year and now a drought emergency

Something is not quite right with our winter weather.

Frisbee and no frost here

Silhouette photo of our grandsons enjoying the late afternoon warm weather at the beach last week with their Frisbee.

Here in the Central Coast of California, most of us can’t remember the last time it rained, and are experiencing much warmer than normal temperatures.

According to the most recent State of the Climate report, published by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), our state had little rain (AGAIN) last year, resulting in a record driest year.

2013 National Precipitation ranking

Temperature-wise,California also had much warmer than normal temperatures last year.

2013 Statewide Ranks NOAA

Even without the official stats, we know the weather is certainly not normal and we were not surprised when California Governor Jerry Brown issued a proclamation last week declaring a drought emergency (to urge Californians to reduce their water use by 20% indoors and out).

From the website Saveourh2o.org:

“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” said Governor Brown. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”

...The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the first snow survey of the year on Jan. 3 and officials measured the snowpack’s statewide water content at about 20 percent of average for this time of year.  According to DWR, the readings this month and in 2012 are the driest on record.

Not only is the snowpack dry, the state has suffered from a lack of rain, with many areas ending 2013 with the lowest rainfall amounts on record. 

According to DWR, Gasquet Ranger Station in Del Norte County—which is normally one of California’s wettest spots with an average annual rainfall of nearly 100 inches—only received 43.46 inches last year.  Sacramento ended the year with 5.74 inches of rain, vastly lower than the normal 18 inches the region usually receives.  Downtown Los Angeles set an all-time low with just 3.4 inches of rainfall.  The city’s average is 14.74 and the previous record low was 4.08 set in 1953.

Field ready for planting Monterey County

In a state (and especially here in Monterey county) where agriculture is a major industry, this creates serious problems for farmers and significantly increases wildfire / firestorm hazards.

We are in dire need of major rain storms to alleviate the drought situation…but so far, there is no rain in the immediate weather forecast.

seelings farm field monterey county

To learn more about what we can do to conserve water, visit the Save our Water website (I’ve added their widget to my website’s sidebar for an easy link, and to get daily water saving tips).

Did you know…California produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables across the nation?  American consumers regularly purchase several crops produced solely in California.  Production Statistics Source: California Department of Agriculture

Related:

KQED’s The California Report: How will drought affect California Agriculture?  Agriculture consumes about 80 percent of the water used in California

California Drought And The U.S. Food Supply – Tom Ashbrook’s On Point Program on the drought emergency in California, and what it may mean for the nation’s food supply.

Hundred Years of Dry: How California’s Drought Could Get Much, Much Worse (from Time Magazine Science and Space – scientist fear California’s long-ago era of mega-droughts could be back)

Field of strawberries rd2

Rows of strawberry plants Monterey County California

 

Lolako.com agriculture-related posts:

Biggest and Smallest Shark

I’ve posted several articles about sharks on my blog — originally because of my irrational fear of sharks.  When I think of sharks, I usually think of BIG sharks…like the 4,000 lb shark tagged in 1990′s off Santa Cruz county caught in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

Q A book about Sharks by Ann McGovernMy older grandson read the Scholastic book Questions and Answers about SHARKS by Ann McGovern, and we learned more!  Note: The book is great for readers in Grade 3 to Grade 5.

So…we knew that there were over 370 different types of sharks and about the whale shark — which at 60 feet long is the biggest shark, and the biggest fish in the world.

We didn’t know about the a tiny shark that fits in the palm of your hand.  Except:

The Japanese named it tsuranagakobitozame.  The word means “the dwarf shark with a long face.”

At about 5 inches long, the tsuranagakobitozame is one tiny shark (with a very long name)!

To learn more about whale sharks (which are listed as Vulnerable” on the IUCN Redlist. because of pressures from unregulated fisheries in China, India and the Philippines), please visit the Georgia Aquarium’s FAQ page, here.  The Georgia Aquarium and the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Japan, are places to see whale sharks on exhibit.

Also visit the The Florida Museum of Natural History’s Ichthyology Department for a great FAQ page on shark basics, here…and if you are curious to know if sharks sleep, if sharks have bones, or how long sharks live.

Did you know….fossil records show that the ancestors of modern sharks swam in our oceans over 400 million years ago?  That makes them older than dinosaurs!  Turns out that sharks have changed very little over time.

Click here to view Lolako.com’s shark related posts

Why the China communist party ban on extravagant banquets may save some sharks from extinction

Each year, millions of sharks are killed just for their fins, a practice called shark finning.  The fins — the most profitable part of the shark — are removed and the shark is returned to the sea alive, and eventually sinks to the bottom of the ocean and suffocates.

Outside of Asia, the state of California and New York are among the largest market for shark fins.  A new law banning the sale of dried shark fins took effect in California in August of this year.  In New York, a new law banning the possession, distribution and sale of shark fins will also be in place next summer.

Shark fins NOAA photo

Photo of NOAA agent counting confiscated shark fins via Wikipedia commons – http://www.magazine.noaa.gov/stories/mag230.htm

Although U.S. bans will impact shark fin demands, the bans should also focus internationally, and on the worlds largest consumers of shark fin products, namely China, Japan and Thailand.

Last year, Chinese communist party officials banned extravagant items like expensive shark fin soups from official banquets.  This military action made a big difference in shark fin consumption in China.

Excerpt from an article posted on The Independent earlier this month:

A crackdown on extravagance and corruption within China’s ruling Communist Party is causing headaches for officials used to splashing the cash on banquets, but it’s proving a lifesaver for sharks.

Consumption of shark fin, the key ingredient in the pricey and extravagant banquet staple shark-fin soup, has dropped by 70 per cent since the end of last year, according to Ministry of Commerce data.

The party leadership launched a campaign in December, vowing to target extravagance and waste, and demanding austerity from cadres and military officials as a means of curbing graft (click here to read the article)

This move by Chinese military officials is similar to a Wal-Mart effect.  As the world’s largest retailer, manufacturing decisions by Wal-Mart — such as,making its vendors minimize plastic packaging — affects the environment simply because of Wal-Mart’s size.

So let’s hope this extravagant banquet ban in China will continue to lessen the demand on shark fins.  And that continued education from celebrity ambassadors (like the Yao Ming / Richard Branson pleas for Chinese diners to stop eating shark fins) puts a stop to this cruel practice and  give shark populations a chance to recover –especially in light of the improving Chinese wealth, making this once expensive restaurant item more affordable  for many more diners (scary thought!).

Richard Branson and Yao Ming Shark ban

Retired basketball star Yao Ming teamed up with British magnate Sir Richard Branson (founder and of Virgin Atlantic) to launch a campaign urging Chinese diners to stop eating shark fins soups.

Right now, 50 of the 307 shark species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.

I do wonder if the celebrity ambassador actions influenced military officials, and what impact it made, at least prior to these extravagant banquet bans.

I am less fearful of sharks now after learning about sharks on my post about the 4,000 lb shark tagged in 1990′s off Santa Cruz county caught in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez,

Sandbar Shark (Photo via NMFS - NOAA)

Sandbar Shark (Photo via NMFS – NOAA)

Related Lolako.com posts:

U.S. coast comparison of shark-attacks vs number of lightning fatalities

The man-eater label — shark attack or a shark-encounter

Links:

San Francisco based Wild Aid – Celebrity Ambassadors

Below video on shark finning