Our generation is on the verge of the greatest mass extinction in over 65 million years, ripping holes in the fabric of life. By 2050, we could lose up to 50% of all life on Earth due to human activities driving habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. Our survival depends on the services provided by biodiversity, including clean air and water, food, medicine, and a stable climate. Our response to this crisis will be one of the lasting legacies of our time.
California is among the 33 biodiversity hotspots on Earth, home to diverse ecosystems and over 300 threatened and endangered species. Thankfully, conservation can work and focusing our efforts locally is essential to reaching zero extinction. To discover the endangered species in your local area, check out this map.
Below are three species in the Bay Area that Tatzoo is focused on, including the blue whale, langes metalmark butterfly, and San Francisco gartner snake. Which one would you choose for a tattoo?
STATUS: ENDANGERED // POPULATION: 1,744
DESCRIPTION: The Blue Whale is the largest animal ever known to have existed. Its immense body is long and slender, up to 108 feet long and weighing 180 metric tons. Its tongue alone weighs as much as an elephant and its heart is the size of a car. When breathing out its twin blowholes, it can spout water 39 ft in the air.
Blue whales are very independent and most commonly live alone or with one other individual, surviving for at least 80 years. Amazingly, this massive mammal feeds almost exclusively on tiny crustaceans known as krill. An adult blue whale can eat up to 40 million krill in a day.
Blue whale calls last 10-30 seconds but some have been recorded making "songs" lasting about two minutes each. They likely use vocalization to communicate information about location, prey, threats, identity, or courtship.
HABITAT: Feed off the coast of California from June to November and then migrate south to Mexico.
THREATS: Blue whale populations were decimated by whaling in the 1900s. Today, a major threat to their remaining population is collisions with ocean vessels.
SOLUTIONS: Collisions can be avoided by changing shipping routes to avoid areas where whales congregate and implementing mandatory speed limits for ships.
Langes Metalmark Butterfly
DESCRIPTION:The Langes Metalmark Butterfly is a beautiful butterfly with a wingspan of about 1-1.5 inches. This butterfly's survival is utterly dependent upon the naked-stemmed buckwheat, a native plant that thrives in the nutrient-poor soils of sand dunes. Butterflies lay eggs on the leaves of the buckwheat during its annual 10-day mating cycle, and the caterpillars dine solely upon the buckwheat before completing its life cycle.
HABITAT: This butterfly lives in sand dunes and can only be found in the Antioch Dunes, a National Wildlife Refuge and relic desert situated in the San Francisco Bay-Delta area near the southern shore of the San Joaquin River.
THREATS: Several large power plants in Contra Costa county near the Antioch Dunes release nitrogen emissions that are altering the chemical composition of dune soil. This allows invasive species to crowd out the Langes Metalmark's precious buckwheat, imperiling the butterfly's chance of survival.
SOLUTIONS: Shut down the four power plants that threaten the butterfly and the health of the neighboring communities. Also, improve butterfly habitat through dune restoration, clearing away nonnative plant species and planting buckwheat.
San Francisco Gartner Snake
STATUS: ENDANGERED // POPULATION: 1,000
DESCRIPTION: The San Francisco garter snake has been dubbed "the most beautiful serpent in North America." It is slender and multi-colored, with a reddish-orange head and red, black, and blue racing stripes on its sides and back. It's harmless to humans and extremely shy, hard to see, and quick to flee when disturbed. It hides among bankside vegetation such as cattails and spike rushes. When it isn't hunting, it basks in the sun.
It's preferred prey is the California Red-Legged Frog, which is also an endangered species. In the warm months of Fall and Spring, adults snakes sometimes enter a dormant state like hibernation, in small mammal burrows. Some inland snakes are known to be active year round, foraging at night when it is cooler. The snakes mate in the spring or autumn and females give birth to an average of 16 live young in June through September.
HABITAT: Coastal and bayside wetlands and densely vegetated ponds near an open hillside.
THREATS: The snake's habitat has been hit hard by agricultural, residential, commercial, and recreational development.
SOLUTIONS:Restore critical habitat at Sharp Park in Pacifica by making it a National Park.