Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Manta Rays at Risk, Extinction is Forever

Manta rays, a species close to the heart of every diver and every individual who cares about the future of our ocean, are increasingly threatened with extinction. They have roamed the ocean for 150 million years and yet we are witnessing their ecocide before our eyes.

Demand for manta ray gill rakers – or the internal feathery structures that strain plankton – has risen drastically, driving untold numbers of deaths for the Asian medicine market. The gruesome and cruel destruction of these gentle creatures is needless, tragic and extremely alarming.

As the environmental voice of the global dive community, Project AWARE is working at every turn to ensure that mantas will not disappear on our watch. Help us ensure maximum protection for these animals before it’s too late. The time is now. Make an urgent donation today to support critical conservation efforts to protect mantas globally.

FACT: Manta ray catch has nearlyquadrupled in seven years according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

FACTProject AWARE has a track record of success on this critical issue. In 2011, in coordination with our partners and with your support, we succeeded in safeguarding this wide-ranging, globally threatened species and its key habitats under the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). Project AWARE has the global reach and seasoned expertise needed to try to stop this slaughter - but we need your financial support.

FACT: Worldwide value of manta-based tourism and filming is estimated at $100 million USD per year. Manta rays top divers’ must-see list time and again. Divers around the world have of a truly special relationship with marine creatures and this means we must play a pivotal role in their protection.

Project AWARE is now targeting protection for mantas and their close relatives the devil rays under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – the world’s largest, most effective wildlife conservation agreement. CITES protections offer the best hope for controlling the manta trade globally and ensuring species recovery.

The battle ahead is going to be difficult. But our opposition is underestimating us. Dive supporters span the globe as guardians of the sea from surface to depth. We will not let manta rays die silently and needlessly. Exercise this power, make waves and join together with us in protecting mantas and devil rays today.

Visit the Manta Rays at Risk section of our website for more information on the manta gill raker trade. Thank you for your urgent support!
For the Ocean,
Alex Earl Executive Director Project AWARE
Alex Earl
Executive Director, Project AWARE Foundation

Sunday, July 1, 2012

10,000 miles = 10,000 books in the Mongol Rally

10,000 miles = 10,000 books in the Mongol Rally:

Mongolia Rally. Photo by: Leon Logothetis
Leon Logothetis will be covering this year’s Mongol Rally for Matador.
THE TRUTH IS, I probably shouldn’t be here. Events happened last year that conspired to nearly rob me of my life. Inches I tell you. Inches. Things happened. Bad things. I had signed up for the famed Mongol Rally; an arduous trek across 10,000 miles of desert, treacherous mountain ranges, and inhospitable territory. All attempted in a car that only your granny would be proud of.

At the hospital. Photo by: Leon Logothetis
The aim was to drive from England to Mongolia. The reality was that I found myself lying on a hospital bed in a distant land. A broken collarbone and bruised ego in tow. Violent car crashes can do that to you. I never did reach Mongolia. My adventure ended on a Romanian road. My life, did not.
This year I’m trying again. Something inside just won’t give up. I guess I’m still chasing the sense of adventure lost on that dusty Romanian road. The sense of accomplishment. The daring. The cultures. The people. Life awaits. Adventure awaits. Mongolia awaits.
The 2012 Mongol Rally will see me visit 18 countries. Connect with hundreds of diverse people and drive thousands of miles. I’ve teamed up with Firstbook, and for every mile I drive I’ll be donating a book to an underprivileged child. Every mile is a book. Every book is a window into hope. Hope that a child will be inspired to live a full life. Hope that a child can grow up one day and yearn to see the world. Experiencing life. Experiencing adventure. Living outside of their box.

Rally car. Photo by Leon Logothetis
As I make my trek across a third of the world’s surface, I’ll be blogging and sending back videos daily. When (not if) I reach my destination of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, this man’s life will be changed for the better in some small way. And hopefully the 10,000 books will have a powerful effect on 10,000 kids. Here’s to hope, my friends.
You can follow my adventure starting July 14th here at Matador Network, on Facebook, and on Twitter.