I’d like you to do something for me right now. Take a look at the person to your right. Now take a look at the person to your left. Also, look at anyone else in the room that might be in front of you or above you somehow. If none of you are Josiaah Utsch and Ridgely Kelly, then you probably won’t be responsible for the preservation of a 500-million-year-old species. Earth-bashing slackers, the lot of you.
A New York Times article ran last year discussing the increasing shrinkage of the ocean’s population of the chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius), a cephalopod nicknamed the “living fossil,” due to being half a billion years old and all. The cause for the endangerment? People can’t stop making jewelry out of the gorgeous shells, because people are fucking idiots. If I can’t sit down and have a meal of fried California Condor wings with Tasmanian Forester Kangaroo ribs, then nobody should be wearing nautilus earrings. But I digress.
Using this article as inspiration, Cape Elizabeth, Maine sixth graders Josiah and Ridgely began their mission to save the sea creature from ending up a statistic. They started a Save the Nautilus website, which became a non-profit organization through the University of Washington, and over $9,000 was raised and given to university paleontologist Peter Ward for research efforts into conserving the nautilus. Here’s what they had to say about that. “It’s great that we’ve almost reached our goal and met Dr. Ward. It was a great experience.” You know why it sounds like a child said that? Because a child said that. One who has probably already done more for Earth than I ever will.
But there is something not-so-childlike about this quote from Josiah: “It would be a tragedy to survive a ton of mass extinctions and have them wiped out by a human mass extinction.” Such a shame to be so young and already have an understanding of how destructive our species is to everything else on the planet. Save the nautilus, and we just might save ourselves. Or something.