The natural world holds so much beauty, but sadly, our planet’s biodiversity declines each year. Over 42,000 creatures from both land and sea are currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. This post will share reasons why animals are increasingly becoming endangered, facts about several threatened species, and the exciting new way to team up with Socksmith to help.
The Science Behind Extinction
OK, stick with us here...Although species extinction occurs naturally, scientists believe the current extinction rate is hundreds–or even thousands–of times greater than the past natural extinction rate. The main cause is habitat loss. Other factors leading to creatures becoming endangered or extinct include invasive species, deforestation, pollution, climate change, and the spread of new diseases within the natural environment.
Every living being on Earth has its purpose. There are specific benefits to conserving species and maintaining diversity. Scientists categorize these values in three ways:
- Development of medicine
|- Wildlife viewing
- Balance within the ecosystem
|- Species existence
Animal species act as indicators of environmental health, and their decline may signal that something is wrong within the habitat that they—and humans—live. In protecting threatened and endangered species, we protect ourselves and future generations, and our efforts can begin right in our backyards.
Making an Impact
Now, Socksmith is thrilled to launch its new Endangered Species Collection, available today as part of one of the most significant philanthropic initiatives the company has undertaken.
For the Environment
Socksmith was born in Santa Cruz, a small beach town on California’s central coast. As coastal Californians, marine preservation is a passion for company co-owners Eric and Ellen Gil and their partner, a long-time friend and industry expert Cassandra Aaron.
The Endangered Species Collection will directly benefit environmental causes within the Santa Cruz area. Socksmith firmly believes in the importance of making an impact by supporting local businesses and affecting positive change within one’s community. Two entities will share 10% of the Endangered Species Collection’s net proceeds. The best part? You can see your impact as you purchase.
Meet our neighbors and partners in helping the environment!
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center–operated by the University of California, Santa Cruz– is a community-supported marine science education center dedicated to educating people about the role scientific research plays in the understanding and conservation of the world’s oceans.
The Center, located in an environment rich with marine life, is home year-round to harbor seals, southern sea otters, bottlenose dolphins, and two porpoise species. California sea lions, northern elephant seals, northern fur seals, four dolphin species, 13 whale species, and the threatened Steller sea lion also visit at various times of the year. Local waters are home to thousands of invertebrates, over 450 different kinds of large marine algae, and thousands of migratory and resident sea birds, shore birds, and fish.
The O'Neill Sea Odyssey
The O’Neill Sea Odyssey aims to provide students with “a hands-on educational experience to encourage the protection and preservation of our living sea and communities.” Their odysseys happen aboard a 65-foot sailing catamaran that was once used by Jack and Tim O’Neill as a vehicle for Jack’s hot air balloon.
Today, the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor facility consists of a two-story, 8,500 ft² building complete with an education center that offers over 200 classes each year. The O’Neill Sea Odyssey’s school science program has served over 100,000 students through two endowments and the community's continued support.
Socksmith's Endangered Species Collection
We are super excited to share this meaningful, colorful collection that features all types of amazing, endangered creatures, from those that swim and swing to those that herd and stalk. Here are some of the wildlife featured on our newest footwear.
Of the Sea
Marine life has a way of swimming into our hearts, and these animals are among our favorites. Offered in men’s and women’s crew-length sizes, these beauties will ship starting today.
Discovered in 1958, this tiny gray porpoise is now on the verge of extinction. Vaquita is the world's rarest marine mammal; less than 20 animals remain. Most often found near land in the shallow waters of the Gulf of California, the Vaquita is the smallest dolphin species, with an adult length of under five feet.
The biggest threat to these animals is us. Vaquitas may become entangled in fishing lines, and increased illegal fishing practices have resulted in a catastrophic population decline.
Besides being impossibly adorable, sea otters occupy an important place within the ocean environment. These otters are a keystone species, meaning their role within their habitat has a more significant effect than other species.
Sea otters are top predators, and their presence is critical in maintaining the balance within their ocean, estuary, and near-shore ecosystems. Without sea otters, the population of sea urchins would skyrocket, and urchins would wreak havoc on sea floor plant life and kelp beds. Because sea otters help to maintain these plant areas, the otters also help to reduce levels of carbon dioxide and absorb greenhouse gasses.
These prehistoric, air-breathing reptiles have been around for 110 million years. Named for their soft, leathery shells, leatherback turtles live primarily in North American waters but rely on beaches for nesting. 90% of United States sea turtle nesting is on Florida beaches.
As humans develop coastlines, leatherbacks have fewer nesting sites and feeding habitats available. Fishing gear entanglement, increased plastic waste, and garbage in ocean waters threaten these beautiful animals.
Of the Land
Elephants, tigers, and bears–oh my! If you’d like to honor animals that walk rather than swim, this hosiery is for you.
Snow leopards are magnificent creatures equipped to survive in some of the roughest environments on Earth. They live in rocky, high, mountainous areas in Asia and are masters of camouflage, sporting a thick gray and white coat with large black spots. These leopards live above the tree line, are reclusive, and are rarely seen; they are often called “ghost cats.”
Environmentalists now classify these powerful cats as vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss, poaching, and climate change. Between 4,000-6,000 snow leopards remain in the wild.
Tigers once inhabited all of Asia, but they’ve since lost over 96% of their habitat due to human expansion. The world’s biggest cats now live in small, remote pockets of land and are often victims of poaching. Scientists believe about 4,500 tigers exist today in the wild.
It will be challenging to increase the tiger population; the cats are slow to reproduce, valued by hunters for their fur, and vulnerable to rising temperatures and climate change.
Outranked only by its African cousin, the Asian Elephant is the world’s second-largest land mammal. An estimated 20,000-40,000 of these majestic creatures roam parts of India and Southeast Asia in herds of related females, their female offspring, and immature males. Elephants form strong bonds with their herd mates and work together to raise their young and protect the group.
Elephants face multiple threats, including habitat loss, deforestation, and poaching for their tusks and skin.
Although rhinos look like dinosaurs, they are mammals just like us. The Javan, Black, and Sumatran species of rhinos are on the critically endangered list, and only 30,000 animals live in the wild.
Adult rhinos have no natural predators except humans, who hunt the creatures for their horns, which are made of keratin–the same material that forms our fingernails. Habitat loss and global warming also contribute to the animals’ endangered status.
Known for its bandit-like black mask and adorable black and white chubby bear body, the Giant Panda lives in the bamboo forests of China. Pandas are solitary animals who only interact during mating season. These bears produce the tiniest babies (weighing an average of 4 oz. at birth) of any land mammal.
The combination of deforestation and poaching caused the Giant Panda’s population to fall to just over 2,060 individuals living in the mountainous habitat of the Tibetan Plateau in southwestern China. Approximately 600 other panda bears live in sanctuaries or zoos across the world.
Furry, red orangutans spend nearly all their time high above the ground in the treetops. They have mighty arms that help them to hang from branches and deftly move among the canopy in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. The orangutan lives alone and makes nests to nap during the day and sleep at night.
The Orangutan, whose name translates to “person of the forest,” plays an essential role in seed dispersion in its environment. These animals are some of our closest relatives, sharing 97% of their DNA with humans. Due to deforestation and climate change, scientists estimate only 55,000-65,000 orangutans exist in the wild.
Gorillas are among the largest apes and are even more genetically similar to humans than orangutans. They tend to be shy, social animals who live on land in Central African rainforests. Gorillas live in groups called troops that a dominant male silverback leads.
The only natural predators of these creatures are leopards, which may hunt young or weak gorillas. The biggest threat to the gorilla population is man. In recent decades gorilla populations decreased due to habitat loss, poaching, and disease. Currently, scientists categorize all four subspecies of gorillas as endangered species.
Making a Difference
We at Socksmith hope you love the comfort, beauty, design, and hope that lies within our new Endangered Species Collection. All of us humans can work together to help one another and the animals with whom we share this planet, and each of us can make a difference from right within our communities.
If you’d like to learn more about the Endangered Species Act or the animals threatened or facing extinction, explore the World Wildlife Fund's Species Directory. Knowledge is power, and there are many ways that you can get involved to help protect vulnerable wildlife.
Life’s too short to wear boring socks and it’s for damn sure too short to let it pass us by without making a difference.