How Your Next Seafood Dinner Can Help the Ocean

Sometimes, I get a minute at my desk to read over the  highly informative and educational journals/magazines/publications that relate to protecting animals and their habitats. Today, I had the opportunity to read the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s 2nd Edition of Turning the Tide (The State of Seafood) publication. Many of you may not have access to this, so let me give you the gist:

Our oceans are in trouble. Why? Many species of fish have been over fished, and done so without considering how long it will take for these animals to get back to healthy populations.

Spotted eagle rays-Photo courtesy of Nat Geo
Spotted eagle rays-Photo courtesy of Nat Geo

Why else? Marine debris, plastic pollution…trash in our oceans! You have probably seen pictures of this on our Houston Zoo Facebook pages:

A green sea turtle in Surfside, Texas entangled in fishing line.
A green sea turtle in Surfside, Texas entangled in fishing line.

So what can we do? Well…a lot, actually. Making smart choices about what we eat and where we buy it is a huge step. We can also limit our use of plastics, and when we do use plastics-make sure they end up in recycling, not on our beaches or on the land in any way.

If you are wondering how to make smart seafood decisions (I don’t blame you…we live on the Gulf Coast and have easy access to seafood!), check out this list of top North American Sustainable Seafood Companies (go to them first to buy your seafood). This list is from the Turning the Tide, The State of Seafood publication:

Grocery Stores:

Walmart

Kroger Company

Costco

Target

Safeway

Publix Super Markers

Ahold USA (Stop & Shop, Giant, Martin’s Food Market)

BJ’s Wholesale Club

Whole Foods Market (who also just helped us raise money for elephant conservation! Thanks Whole Foods!)

Giant Eagle

Trader Joe’s

A & P

Winn-Dixie Stores

Thank you to these stores for keeping our oceans healthy, and the animals who live in our oceans healthy!

Our Texas sea turtles are appreciative of your sustainable seafood choices!
Our Texas sea turtles are appreciative of your sustainable seafood choices!

These stores have public sustainable seafood sourcing policies and work in partnership with members of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions.

If you’re interested in finding out more about specific types of seafood to eat, or avoid, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch recommendations.

OR, check out this page for a list of seafood to eat and to avoid that is specific to those of us in Texas!

Thanks for doing your part to save wildlife. And remember, every time you visit the Houston Zoo, you help save animals in the wild!

Thank You Spider, for Killing the Bugs That Bug Us

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Image courtesy of Runt of the Web

Poor spiders! They seem to be at or near the top of most folks’ list of creepy crawly icky things that they don’t want anywhere near them. They usually make the sides of pest control vans too, even though they’re practically the opposite of a pest. Spiders never infest your food supplies, but they eat some of the things that do, they don’t bite you without a good reason, and some of them construct super cool webs.

Argiope-aurantia-Black-and-Yellow-Garden-Spider-w
Argiope aurantia, Black and Yellow Garden Spider

According to National Geographic, the average spider eats about 2,000 insects a year, so spiders are good to have around the home.

Of the more than nine hundred species of spider in Texas, only two are potentially dangerous (barring an allergic reaction similar to how some people react to bee stings); the black widow and brown recluse. Both of these are quite shy, choosing to stay hidden and let food come to them.

Black_Widow_wikipedia
The red spot is on the belly of the black widow. Image courtesy of wikipedia
Brown-recluse-wikipedia
Brown recluses aren’t much bigger than a penny. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Spiders are an incredibly diverse and fascinating group of animals. There are small ones, big ones, fuzzy ones; some burrow, some make huge webs way up high, some use silk as a lasso, some take care of their babies for a time, some dive under water taking along a bubble of air. There is even one that spits a combination of glue and venom at its prey-how cool is that? Some are just downright cute.

Phidippus regius female jumping spider. Photo by Thomas Shahan via flickr
Phidippus regius female jumping spider. Photo by Thomas Shahan via flickr

As with other venomous creatures, many people tend to be overly concerned about them. Bites do happen on occasion, though almost always from accidental contact. We come close to many more spiders than we will ever know because of their usual small size and reclusive habits. This Halloween, let’s give spiders some credit and think of them as natural pest control instead of pests themselves!

Comb-clawed spider chomping down on some pesky ants
Comb-clawed spider chomping down on some pesky ants

Find out more cool stuff about spiders – check out Spider Facts on the Discovery Channel website

Wolf spider mom carrying dozens of babies on her back.
Wolf spider mom carrying dozens of babies on her back.

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088-spider

spider-with-prey-040

Wildlife Heroes is an awesome book, and we have the author coming to the Zoo!

Join us on May 19th and 20th for Wildlife Heroes weekend at the Houston Zoo.  On May 20th we welcome Jeff Flocken, co-author of Wildlife Heroes: 40 Leading Conservationists and the Animals they are Committed to Saving for a book-signing and presentations by zoo staff on the focus species of the book. Wildlife Heroes will be available for sale at the zoo on May 20th, quantities are limited!  Books are also available for  pre-order on the Houston Zoo website at: https://www.houstonzoo.org/wildlife-heroes/for a dicounted price until May 17th.

My first heroes were animal people.  When I went to zoos my heroes were the zoo keepers and when I watched animal documentaries the researchers were my heroes.  We all need amazing people to inspire us and that is why the new book Wildlife Heroes is so wonderful. 

The book includes 40 people overcoming impossible odds to save endangered species all over the world.  If you are looking for real heroes for your children to look up to look now further! 

The unique stories in this book of local communities becoming involved in anti-poaching, education and research efforts for wildlife in their own back yard are immeasurably inspiring!  In one story a young boy, Thia grew up in Northern Vietnam watching his village hunt the very species he fights to save today.  His passion to help a unique species called the pangolin will warm your heart!
 
I have had the honor of meeting many of the heroes in this book (including the authors) over the years and they inspire me to move forward in my own wildlife conservation work.  These are real people making a real difference! 

This book introduces readers to pollinator and amphibian decline and other environment issues that continue to threaten our world.  But it also offers great messages of hope.  In the last chapter Jack Hannah suggests ways the reader can help, and the good news is that by purchasing the Wildlife Heroes book you are already helping- 100 % of the proceeds go to the projects featured in the book.  A win for everyone!

Hope to see you at the Houston Zoo for our Wildlife Heroes weekend May 19th and 20th!

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