Research & Conservation

We’ve already lost 60% of all wildlife

The WWF, World Wildlife Fund this month gave us damning news: Humans have killed 60% of the world’s wildlife.

I’ll let that sink in. 60%

As our population grows and grows, we are taking over far corners of the world that had never seen human influence before… and when humans take over, the areas a permanently damaged. It is not just litter, but it is building, creating drains, altering river routes, moving mountains, building islands and so on.

Research come after the WWF collected date on over 4,000 species around the world from 1970-2014. The longitudinal study confirmed that our appetite for Earth’s natural resources is over-exploiting the planet.

Resources like oil, wood, energy, water are important for our development but it comes at a huge cost. Animals are being forced away from their natural habitats, whether aquatic or not, and re -settling is demanding, tough and often fatal. We’ve seen the populations of our beautiful big elephants decline to such a low amount that you can practically count them with two hands.

Elephants look for food amongst a heap of human-caused litter.

Poaching is also a serious issue. We lose tens of millions of sharks annually for shark fin soup, and we also lose hundreds of elephants and rhinos per year for their ivory tusks… I mean how greedy can we be?

Climate change is also a massive contributor. We’ve accelerated the rate of rising temperatures to a point where a 0.5 degrees increase will totally devastate our planet, as we discussed in last month’s blog post.

SOuth America is the region which has suffered the highest decrease in wildlife, with 89% of their vertebrate species already lost.

“Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions,” say WWF’s Living Planet Report authors.

The Malta National Aquarium is going Blue

While going Green is always amazing, at the Malta National Aquarium we’ve decided to also go BLUE!

This means we’ve now ditched all single-use plastic! Our coffee stirrers are made from bamboo, while we also are proud to only use biodegradable straws, and ice cream spoons! That is a huge win for the environment, and a win for you… as putting plastic (which is chemically produced) in your mouths is never a good idea!

We take these steps to ensure a better future but to also influence our growing audience and we were also delighted to be involved with the European Week for Waste Reduction.

From the 17th – 25th November the whole of Europe dedicated a week to emphasise the importance of Waste Reduction, a topic we often discuss in this blog. The focus was on the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and a clean up – something we love (but hate the actual reason for) doing!

We enjoyed a presentation tackling waste management and then set up and did a good clean up around the grounds of our National Aquarium. We strive to do these clean ups and are happy to say it is now a part of our natural daily routine to pick litter from wherever we find ourselves. It is a fine example of: Small action – huge impact!

Swap Plastic packaging to seaweed

Indonesia is the second highest contributor of plastic pollution in the world, second only to China, according to the Borgen Report. Alarmingly, pollution from food packaging makes up of a third of marine pollution.

Common food package examples:

  • An empty bag of twistees
  • Plastic covers for coffee pods
  • Plastic water bottles
  • Rice packages
  • Pasta bags
  • Chocolate wrappers

The above list is a short, but simple list to put you in perspective: How many of these products do you use in your everyday life? Probably all.

Imagine seeing this at your local beach

We do need to store our food somehow, but what about finding another alternative to indestructible plastic? A 25 year old in Indonesia has the ideal solution, and it comes from Mother Nature’s massive garden.

Seaweed can be cultivated, grown and cut into different shapes. Once used it will decompose very quickly, and can be an ideal method to replace coffee pods, for one example, or to wrap up your lunch sandwich.

It is a completely natural product and there is no chemical process involved whatsoever. You can even eat your own drinking cup after you’ve had a cup of water – and how great would that be?

David Christian is the 25 year old man behind the plan and the best part about the plan is that not only is it completely sustainable, but it is also a product which is very easy to cultivate in a warm climate (Take note Malta!)
We are still in the very early days of his tests and research, but with Indonesia pledging to reduce its plastic pollution by a whopping 70%, this is a step in the right solution, and other countries can easily adapt the solution once it is indeed finalised.

Could seaweed be the saviour from our plastic catastrophe?

David Attenborough returns in Dynasties

Seeing as we’ve dried our feet and emerged from our natural habitat, the sea and her fish, we’ll stick to land based creatures for the next part of this blog.

Now if you haven’t heard of BBC documentary series such as BBC Planet Earth (one and two, BBC Blue Planet (one and two) Life, we heavily suggest that you get your hands on them and feast your eyes, and ears, on a truly life changing series. This stuff is more exciting than any Game of Thrones season, and you’ll surely be hooked… and, as a bonus point, you’ll fall more and more in love with the world we live in, and all her inhabitants.

These series are presented by one of our all-time favourite humans, Sir David Attenborough who, aside from being a true gent, is a complete expert and each and every single episode is bursting with knowledge on all type of living creatures. Watch a few episodes and you’ll blow your Geography teacher away this year!

November saw the release of a new series entitled Dynasties. Dynasties documents the existence of five of the world’s most celebrated, yet endangered animals. We follow penguins, chimpanzees, painted wolves, lions and tigers as they fight for their own survival, an their own dynasties.

One common threat they face: human behaviour, and this is why it is worth highlighting this show in this blog. All our actions, every single one of them, no matter how big or how small have an effect on the natural world. Our remarkable creatures face threats from mankind due to our waste, heating, pollution and lack of care. I won’t go into detail on the series, so as not to spoil the fun, but I can point out something: it will empower you to start making changes… and we all know that if we want to change the world for the better: we have to start by changing our daily habits.

I’ll leave Watching Dynasties on the top of your homework list for this month – you won’t be disappointed.