GUEST BLOG: Black Fish Fundraiser – By Jack Riggall

I’ve never lived by the sea, but obviously in the UK we are never far away from it; so I’ve had some opportunity to see a few of its many citizens (both here and abroad), enough to secure my support, small though it may be, for its preservation. Cornwall was a frequented holiday destination for my family growing up, and events that spring to mind are rescuing a stranded plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) from the busy Polzeath beach where it was likely to be squashed and returning it to the tide, watching basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) from the cliffs at Boscastle and investigating rock pools looking for various crab species whilst the large aquatic woodlice amazed me (I’m not actually sure what they are to this day, though I suppose as an amateur naturalist I should find out). The time I spent in Florida swimming with captive dolphins is admittedly something I don’t look back on with pride after learning the origins of captured cetaceans, but my more recent experience of kayaking & swimming with loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) off the coast off Zakynthos in Greece is something I treasure. One charity working to protect them came to speak at our hotel, and I later recommended a friend spend the following summer with this group with the experience & challenges the loggerhead faces described on my own blog.

All these species, whether cetacean, turtle or fish, have something in common – overfishing threatens their future. It’s perhaps telling that the first posts that show up on google when searching for fish are links to the best way to cook them (whereas searches for mammals, invertebrates & birds all present information on ecology). The Black Fish made it clear when they came to my college towards the end of last year that current predictions of the impact of overfishing mean the ocean will be largely devoid of life (think Jellyfish and not much else) by the year 2050. This charity is working to achieve commitment to sustainable use of the ocean on a political level as well as monitor fishing for illegal activity (a big issue in the Mediterranean where the charity has been active & successful in pursuing prosecutions) such as the use of driftnets, also known as ‘curtains of death’ for their habit of drowning cetaceans & turtles which are then simply discarded. It’s clear that if all the lovely creatures of the ocean are to have a future, idleness is not an option.

So, in support of The Black Fish myself and fellow wildlife campaigner & student Matthew Goodacre signed up (rather last minute) to the London to Brighton bike ride the charity is organising in September; we would race the 54 miles but as I intend to lounge about in many cafes en route it simply would not be fair. We need to raise £200 each, so your support (whether in sponsorship or encouragement) would greatly be appreciated by ourselves and the lovely ocean creatures too.