Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Bob Timmons’ work depicts the plight of the mysterious and diverse marine animals. For this show on February 16th, Bob, a grass-roots animal rights advocate, created several works of art specifically for the Valentine’s theme, “To My Bloody Valentine.” 20% of sales benefited Refuge RR for Horses, a registered, charitable organization which rescues, rehabilitates and provides permanent homes for abused, neglected and/or abandoned horses, as well as horses who are no longer serviceable. Along with their equine residents, the Refuge also provides sanctuary to a variety of other animals: sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats. Donations have been critical to the Refuge, in order to end nearly 2 years of water delivery at huge costs (trucking water costs approximately $40,000 /year) and enable them to finally drill a new well at a cost of $22,000.
Historically, we thought that we could never take too much out of, or put too much waste into, the oceans. The open oceans have become a free-for-all, hardly regulated or policed. International laws to protect them are drastically inadequate to address threats like large-scale commercial fishing, which sweeps life out of the seas at unprecedented rates – often only to discard the unusable “bycatch.” Tragically, that discarded bycatch includes thousands of severely injured or slain sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals annually.
Two thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered by the oceans, and this vast ecosystem harbours the greatest amount of our biodiversity. Most of the oxygen we are breathing was made by miniscule algae and bacteria – phytoplankton, which provides half of the food on which all the animals on this planet depend. Photosynthesis by phytoplankton removes carbon dioxide from the air and produces oxygen (remember your high school photosynthesis equation!) From shrimp to whale, almost every creature living in the oceans relies on phytoplankton, as do we. As it has been in decline for at least 50 years due to rising water temperatures, it now threatens the food base of much of the biosphere. If the ocean is altered in a way that doesn’t favour marine species, we have very little to fall back on. Having a wide biodiversity of species is rather comparable to a diverse stock portfolio – you are somewhat insulated from the poor performance of a few stocks.
According to the foremost authoritative compilation of living things at risk – the so-called Red List maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, globally, 1,851 species of fish – or 5 percent of fish species are deemed at risk of extinction. Currently, only 0.8% of the world’s oceans are protected in marine protected areas (MPAs) and MPA networks. These protected areas encompass an area of approximately 2.85 million km2, representing:
- 0.8% of the world’s 361 million km2 of ocean
- 2.0% of the 147 million km2 of ocean under national jurisdiction
- Of the global marine area that is protected, only 300,000km2 – i.e. just under 10% of the global MPA area – is a marine reserve (‘no-take’ MPA)
And these scant “protected” areas must continually be defended – Greenpeace has compiled two different blacklists of Illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) vessels, companies, and countries that commercially fish illegally.
Bob’s artwork is hanging at Disgraceland until April 1st, 2013, so go and check it out at 965 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario. Prints are available at Bob’s store here. Find Refuge RR for Horses on Facebook and please consider a tax deductable donation to Refuge RR here.
“The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree… As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.”
Charles Darwin, 1859