Orca whale breaching
Animals, C.A.R.E., Caring Action, Nature, Unified Caring Association

A Story About Whales, Fish and Trees

The Southern Resident Orcas, often referred to as killer whales, are an icon of the Pacific Northwest. Swimming the waters off the coast of North America from California to British Columbia, the black and white whales are one of the most recognizable and beloved marine animals in the world. Saving these Orcas turns out to be a story about whales, fish and trees.

Unified Caring Association recently co-sponsored a new project with One Tree Planted to save animals and environment through reforestation.

Sadly, there are only 75 Southern Resident Orcas remaining – which makes them an endangered species, and they are starving.

Thankfully, new conservation efforts involving One Tree Planted and Promise the Pod are drawing the connection between restoring the forests of the Pacific Northwest and saving the Orcas. By repairing critical watersheds and planting lots of trees, conservationists hope to bring back the Orcas from the brink of extinction.

But what connects trees and whales? It all comes down to what they eat!

Orca whale breaching

Bring Back the Chinook Salmon!

One of the biggest threats to the Orca is an ever-decreasing supply of fatty, healthy, plentiful salmon.

For thousands of years, the Southern Resident Orca population has relied primarily on Chinook salmon as a staple of their diet, amounting to some 80% of their caloric intake.

As the Orca migrate North and South along the Pacific coast they feed on the nutrient dense salmon coming downstream from the numerous rivers and streams that flow into the Pacific – and they need a lot of it!

Scientists estimate that it takes over 700 Chinook salmon to feed the entire current Southern Resident Orca population every single day.

However, once an abundant source of food, the Chinook salmon stocks have collapsed over the last 150 years. Today, just a little more than half of the Northwest Chinook salmon populations remain.

Human interference such as through fish hatcheries, dams, dykes and levees, logging, over-fishing, pollution, and highway construction are all impeding the salmon’s ability to spawn and survive – not to mention the impact climate change is having on rising water temperatures.

With all of these changes to their habitat, the number of Chinook salmon traveling from the Pacific Ocean upstream to their spawning grounds – and eventually returning to the ocean where the Orca feed upon them – has been steadily diminishing for decades.

But there is a way to improve this… by planting trees!

The Benefit of Trees Is Undeniable

Tree planting and restoring riparian zones (the areas where land meets a river or stream) across the Pacific Northwest is a simple and effective solution for protecting salmon stocks and ensuring the Orca can rely on Chinook salmon for years to come.

Planting trees has a number of knock-on effects that benefit the salmon and, ultimately, the Orca. The first of which is improved water quality.

The rivers and streams the salmon populate are filled with pollution. As the salmon feed and grow in these waters they store pollutants in their tissue until they return to the ocean where they are fed upon by Orca. Those contaminants are then passed on to the whales making them more vulnerable to disease and can even cause difficulties reproducing. Sadly, Orcas are one of the most polluted marine mammals in the world.

Trees planted along the banks of the river can help filter out toxins as water passes through the soil and into the rivers where the salmon spawn. This not only improves salmon survivability, but also improves the quality and quantity of food available to the Orca.

In the longer-term, the benefits of tree planting for salmon and Orca is much more apparent. As the trees grow and their roots spread, the banks of the rivers solidify, protecting against erosion and keeping the river water clear of excessive sediment, which is necessary for the salmon to spawn.

Trees also help provide important nutrients for the young salmon as they grow. Leaves, needles, and woody debris falling into the river create habitat for insects the salmon eat, helping them fatten up for the long journey downstream to the Pacific Ocean.

As the trees mature and the forest canopy thickens it provides critical shade over salmon spawning grounds. Salmon eggs need to be kept cool, and without adequate shade from vegetation on the banks of the river water temperatures will rise, reducing the chances the eggs have to develop and hatch.

Even dying and fallen trees on the banks of the river benefit salmon. Branches and trees that fall into the water help to slow down the flow, making it easier for the salmon to lay their eggs without them getting immediately washed away. Planting trees today means the debris created in the future ensures the salmon have plenty of spots to lay their eggs.

The trophic cascade brought on by planting trees is undeniable. Balancing an ecosystem is a major part of ensuring that critical species survive – and planting trees is a great place to start!

Trees Can’t Do It All On Their Own

We know that saving a species from extinction is much more complex than just planting trees. The Orca are affected by many other factors like ship traffic and ocean pollution, so there is no doubt that other steps must be taken to ensure their survival.

That being said, planting trees to restore critical salmon habitat will go a long way to making sure the Orca have enough healthy, toxin free food to eat – and it’s an action that can be taken today.

We encourage our readers to join UCA and One Tree Planted to take caring action by donating to the Orca Project today.

This article and photos reprinted from OneTreePlanted.org with permission.

Animals, Caring Action, Caring Beyond Borders, Caring Connections

Conservation Ambassadors Zoo to You

Conservation Ambassadors Zoo to You

Cute, fierce, and awe inspiring are some of the feelings that many of us feel when we see animals. Sometimes our furry and crawling friends need a little help. An example that Unified Caring Association (UCA) loves to do is have UCA member benefits that help pets. Other organizations that help animals hold a favorite place in our hearts. One such organization is Conservation Ambassadors and their Zoo to You program.

Who are Conservation Ambassadors and what is the Zoo to You?

Conservation Ambassadors and Zoo are a rescue zoo. This is a place where un-releasable and unwanted wild animals could have a permanent loving home. These animals have a second chance at life by becoming animal “ambassadors” through an outreach education program. At the sanctuary there are about 230 animals, and about 8 employees. Largest of the animals are the camels, black bears and tigers. What the team loves is that all the animals are well cared for and accustomed to people. This helps them become ambassadors for education.

Conservation Ambassadors have rescued hundreds of animals and educated many children for years. Over the years, the sanctuary has been growing and is currently planning further developments to house the growing animal population. Conservation Ambassadors are giving a caring voice to wildlife by providing a stable and loving home. Many of these animals are displaced, exotic, abused, abandoned or permanently injured. Their second life is full of fun and TLC as they are able to participate in outreach programs with school children. These learners, young to old, are educated about conservation, can become connected to the wild world, and inspire them to protect and conserve animals and their habitat.

Zoo to You is a specific program that helps inspire many people all over California. This unique style of education is a blend of relevant storytelling and fun, enlightening messages through meeting live animals. With the efforts of Conservation Ambassadors and Zoo to You, these children grow into informed, caring adults. Often these children call and write to the sanctuary about how much they have learned and enjoyed the programs, and want to bring their kids to learn as well. This is such an inspiring organization brimming with caring, inspiring others to see the natural world as an important and necessary part of life. 

Video Conservation Ambassadors

Learn more about Conservation Ambassadors by CLICKING HERE to watch a short video!

Meet some of the Animals

Recently, we had a chance to meet some of the caring team members and their animal ambassadors. We are happy to see them all, and want to celebrate them!

Izzabu

Izzabu is a 5 year old camel who used to work in the movies. She is gorgeous with her long eyelashes!

Rhetta

Rhetta is an Augur Buzzard from Central Africa. She enjoys eating small prey like lizards and snakes or small birds. She loves to chill all day when she is not hunting.

Emeril
Spike

We met Emeril, who is 5 years old, and Spike, who is much larger. Both of these alligators are happily hanging out with full bellies. 

Nick

Next we have Nick the reindeer. He is 7 yrs old, and lives in the Midwest most of the year. He loves his grain snacks, and gobbles them down at every chance! November through December his antlers fall off. But before that, during the middle of the year, he will often rub the fur off his antlers.

Marcel

At one point we were quickly introduced to Marcel the monkey. He gave a quick squeak before being whisked away for a snack.

Pockets

Pockets is an opossum who is 3 years old, which is old for her species. Interestingly, we learned that opossums are more closely related to monkeys, and their bodies are too cold for carrying diseases. We were having fun watching Pockets wrap her tail as she descends from shoulders and branches.

Bluebell

A chinchilla named Bluebell was snoozing in her ash bath as she was waiting for night to fall. We learned from her that chinchillas see best in the dark, and if their fur gets wet it will begin tol mold. We were enjoying petting Bluebell because she is SO soft. This soft silky fur is because of how dense and fine their fur is; we can only describe this as petting a cloud.

Disco

Lastly, we met Disco the Fox. Disco is a rescue from a lady who was illegally raising him. He is 12 years old, and is looking forward to many more years as an ambassador because foxes can live to be 20 years old in captivity.

We had a blast meeting the animal ambassadors and the caring individuals who help care for them. Nothing makes our hearts sing than seeing others sharing the caring and helping educate others on how the world can become a better place for all to live.

Zoo Animals

Want to check out more about Unified Caring Association? CLICK HERE to visit our website! If you would like to read more about caring the UCA way, sharing caring, and/or topics on caring action check out all of our blogs. Not able to check in on the blogs each day? Follow us on Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to get notifications from us. We look forward to connecting and sharing with you!

Animals, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

An Ultra Rare Photograph

Rare Photograph

Ultra rare black leopard is photographed for the first time in 100 years in Africa.

“For me, no animal is shrouded in more mystery, no animal more elusive, and no animal more beautiful. For many years they remained the stuff of dreams and of far fetched stories told around the campfire at night. 21 more words…” (Positive Outlooks )

via Ultra rare black leopard is photographed for the first time in 100 years in Africa