natulis
Ridgely Kelly

Here are a few reasons  that Josiah Utsch, 12, and Ridgely Kelly, 11, say they’re fans of the nautilus:

  • It’s been around for 500 million years.
  • That’s since dinosaurs were alive.
  • It survived meteorites.
  • It’s beautiful.

It’s also in danger from overfishing. The nautilus, a type of mollusk, can take 15 years to reach maturity and is in high demand by jewelry makers either as an ornament or to make fake pearls. That’s kind of screwed up. As Kelly puts it:

“It just wouldn’t be right to have it die out because we want to wear it on our necks.”

And so Utsch and Kelly have been promoting awareness and raising money to save the nautilus. They have a website, where they accept donations and sell shirts they designed. They’ve also encouraged other kids to donate their allowances or birthday money to the cause.

All in all, they’ve raised $10,000 so far, which will go to support the research of University of Washington’s Peter Ward, who studies the creatures. And they’re going to participate in that research, too: In February, their parents are paying for them to travel to Samoa with Ward in order to monitor nautiluses in the wild.

If you’d like to pitch in, here’s what Utsch and Kelly suggest:

Write a letter to ebay, etsy and Neiman Marcus (who are among the largest sellers of nautilus jewlery) and tell them stores to STOP selling nautilus shells. Spread the word, tell your friends and family about our cause. Donate money to Dr. Ward’s research-our goal is $15,000 which would enable Dr. Peter Ward to cover the costs of running one data- gathering expedition which would put us a large step forward in providing the information required by CITES to get the nautilus officially protected and end the legal trade of its shells.

You probably won’t end up on a trip to Samoa, but you will get to help save one of the world’s oldest species from senseless decimation.