Banggai Rescue Reaches Kickstarter Goal Today

March 28, 2012 in Kickstarter Updates, Project Updates, Slideshow

Wild shoal of mixed ages of Banggai Cardinalfish in Sulawesi, Indonesia

BANGGAI RESCUE A KICKSTART SUCCESS – Project Raises $25,000 to Come to the Aid of the Endangered Banggai Cardinalfish

Team of scientists and aquarists will use “crowd funding” from the marine aquarium world to underwrite research and new book

March 28, 2012

“We are elated to announce that the Banggai Rescue Project™ has made its initial fundraising goal of $25,000,” says CORAL editor James Lawrence, as he and an interdisciplinary team of aquarists and marine scientists have set out on a major initiative to prevent the Banggai Cardinalfish, Pterapogon kauderni, from being wiped out in parts of its native range.

The funds raised to date come from more than 120 backers via the Kickstarter “crowd funding” web site, with contributions ranging from $1 to more than $10,000. Pushing the amount raised over its goal was the generous participation of The Rev. Jeanne Warner, right, a Lutheran pastor from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Warner is a passionate aquarist, with a 350-gallon reef aquarium, as well as a believer in the importance of sustainable collection practices in the source countries that supply the marine trade. She says her backing comes “for the sake of this species, as well as for the fishers and Indonesian families whose livelihood depends on it.”

Rev. Jeanne Warner, Project Banggai Backer

Rev. Jeanne Warner, Project Banggai Rescue Backer

“We are called to be good stewards of this planet,” says Warner. “As a marine aquarist and diver, this is a way for me to help save the planet.”

Backers of Kickstarter projects receive various levels of rewards from the organizers, but do not become actual investors.

In this case the rewards range from hand-signed postcards from the Banggai Islands expedition to advance copies of the Banggai Rescue book, limited edition artwork of Banggai Cardinalfish, and presentations to local groups by the coauthors of the book. Contributions are still encouraged here.

Uncommonly beautiful and with unusual mouthbrooding reproductive habits, the species was listed as Endangered in 2007 by the International Union of Concerned Scientists’ (IUCN). Uncontrolled harvest for the aquarium trade has been cited as the major threatening factor for a fish with a very limited natural range.

Project Banggai Rescue will send a team, including scientists and an embedded journalist, on an expedition in May to the remote Banggai Islands in Sulawesi, Indonesia, with several simultaneous missions: assessing the situation; tracking the source of a mysterious disease that kills many Banggai Cardinals collected for the aquarium trade; exploring the possibilities of establishing mariculture operations run by local Indonesian families; and collecting healthy broodstock for captive aquaculture research in the United States.

First team members named, left to right: Ret Talbot, Matt Pedersen, James Lawrence, and Karen Talbot.

First book project leaders named, left to right: Ret Talbot, Matt Pedersen, James Lawrence, and Karen Talbot.

“We still invite people to support this work,” says Lawrence, head of Reef to Rainforest Media, based in Shelburne, Vermont. “Our hope is to be able to continue on-going work with local conservation groups in the Banggai Islands who are struggling to fund education and collection enforcement programs in the native range of Pterapogon kauderni.”

Coauthors of the book include Talbot, who will accompany and document the Expedition, marine breeder Matt Pedersen, with the senior science participants to be named in coming weeks. Natural history conservation artist Karen Talbot will produce a series of portraits of the Banggai Cardinalfish for the book and as rewards for Kickstarter backers.

The project has the support of Dr. Gerald R. Allen, world-renowned ichthyologist now working for Conservation International, who re-discovered the species in a remote archipelago in Indonesia in 1995. Gayatri Reksodihardjo-Lilley, the head of Yayasan Alam Indonesia Lestari (LINI), the Indonesian Nature Federation, has also welcomed the project to her country.

Become a Banggai Rescue Backer on Kickstarter

New Banggai Breeder’s Guide

Pedersen, winner of the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America Aquarist of the Year Award in 2009 for his pioneering successes in breeding marine fishes and as an advocate for captive culture of popular aquarium species, will stay home in Duluth, Minnesota, to write the hands-on husbandry and breeding sections of the book.

A significant part of the project is Pedersen’s work with 20 pairs of Banggai Cardinalfish that will allow him to revisit existing protocols and pitfalls in the propagation of the species. Pedersen seeks to establish a modern breeding approach that private aquarists and small commercial breeders throughout the world can leverage.

Banggai Rescue Cover

“When this species first entered the aquarium trade in the mid-1990s, we all thought it would prove to be the Marine Guppy,” says Lawrence, who will edit the book and write an introduction to the endangered species, whose wild populations have been severely impacted by aquarium collectors and reportedly wiped out in some areas. “The fact is, very few captive-bred Banggai Cardinals are being produced by U.S. aquaculture operations, and we hope to change that, while at the same time supporting source country culturing efforts.”

Entitled, Banggai Rescue, Adventures in bringing Pterapongon kauderni back from the brink, the book is scheduled for publication in time for the annual Marine Aquarium Conference of North America in Dallas/Fort Worth, at the end of September. Sales of the book will help fund ongoing research and sustainability initiatives.

“We are especially pleased to have the endorsement and encouragement of leading Indonesia wildlife conservationists who are also working to protect the species,” Lawrence says. “They are on the ground and in the water, with a goal of making it a sustainable fishery. We believe it is crucial to work with the Indonesian people, as well as encouraging serious breeding efforts by marine aquarists.”

KICKSTARTER: The Banggai Rescue Project

BANGGAI Rescue Website

Banggai Rescue: USE OF FUNDS

James Lawrence
802.985.9977 x7

Photo Credits:

Banggai Cardinalfish Stamp: Karen Talbot/Karen Talbot Art
Banggai Cardinalfish Shoal: FAUP/Shutterstock
BANGGAI RESCUE cover: Matthew L. Wittenrich/Aquatic Pixels
Design: Linda Provost