What can I do to help? How can I make a difference?
These words went through my mind each and every time I heard news about right whales entangled in nets, washed ashore or found dead in coastal waters. Our waters, here in the Maritimes and across the globe.
We all have causes that are close to our hearts. For me, it has always been protecting our oceans and the creatures that call it home.
When I founded Sandy Toes Shop in 2017, I always knew we would donate to ocean conservation in some way, but it wasn’t until 2018 after so many Right Whale deaths off our coast that I knew what I needed to do.
The Campobello Whale Rescue Team
The Campobello Whale Rescue Team is a volunteer organization that consists primarily of fishermen, a biologist and other volunteers.
The organization was formed in 2002 and is licensed and permitted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Its team has been trained and has experience using very specialized equipment to disentangle large whales in distress and tangled in fishing gear in Atlantic Canadian waters.
And while fishing gear is often to blame, according to their website, “The CWRT supports the fishing industry and encourages stewardship of whales among fishermen and those making a living on the water,”—which I think is a fantastic way to approach this important matter.
Why Are We Supporting Whale Rescue?
While there are many ocean conservation organizations and causes we could choose to support—we all know how passionate I am about keeping straws out of sea turtles noses—I truly feel that right now and in the years to come, our Right Whales need us most.
The Right Whale
Currently, there are less than 400 right whales left in the world. It terrifies me to think that in my lifetime, they could all be gone.
Whale entanglement due to fishing gear isn’t only an Atlantic Canadian problem—It’s a global problem.
While some whales are able to free themselves on their own, many will die as a result of entanglement if it impacts their ability to feed or migrate.
By supporting the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, we're making an immediate impact where it's needed most. The way I see it, if we can put gas in the boat that goes to rescue a whale in distress, even small contributions can make a difference.
Meeting Team Members in Campobello Island
On August 23rd 2019, we travelled to Campobello Island to join Mackie Greene, Director of Whale Rescue Operations at Canadian Whale Institute and fellow rescuer Robert on an evening whale cruise in the Bay of Fundy and to present them with a cheque for one thousand dollars made possible by the sale of 500 t-shirts and tank tops in 2018.
The donation was matched by our sister brand, East Coast Mermaid, which is the whole reason Sandy Toes Shop exists in the first place. (And of course, whales are a mermaid’s best friend.)
It was so incredible to meet Mackie and Robert. These men and their team risk their lives each and every time they respond to a whale in distress and the work they do is too important to ignore.
Upon learning that our donation will get them closer to purchasing a new rescue boat for quicker responses in northern New Brunswick, my heart exploded.
Presenting them with our donation check, sharing words (and maybe a few tears), I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
It reinforced our decision to donate one dollar from EVERY ITEM SOLD in 2019 and 2020 to the Campobello Whale Rescue Team. We can’t wait to present them with an even bigger cheque next summer.
To Mackie, Robert and their team - I feel very proud and grateful to have met you and I am so incredibly thankful for the work you do every day.
The whales are so very lucky to have you.
(Pictured: Humpback Whales later on that evening)
How you can help
To learn more about the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, visit them online.
For a powerful, but longer read about Campobello Whale Rescue Team co-founding member Joe Howlett, who gave his life to save a right whale in 2017, I highly recommend reading: Joe and the Whale.
You can also check out these great articles about the team: