Two boys from Cape Elizabeth, Maine have made it their mission to help save one of the planet’s oldest species. The two friends both aged 12 have begun a successful campaign to raise awareness of the threats facing a half-a-billion year old chambered nautilus –a colorful marine mollusk nearing extinction.

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The nautilus, whose existence dates back more than 500 million years, is often referred to as a “living fossil.” Easy to catch, these marine creatures are killed for their shell, which is used to make jewelry and various ornaments. Due to overfishing and high demand for its decorative qualities, the nautilus has seen a drastic decrease in population over the past decade.

Last year, after learning that the colorful creature is in danger of being completely wiped-out, Josiah Utsch invited his friend Ridgely Kelly to help raise awareness about the issue. The boys launched a website through which they raised nearly $10,000 for funding ascientific research on the nautilus. They didn’t stop there. Along with selling special “Save the Nautilus” t-shirts, the pair donated their allowance money and encouraged others to do the same. Soon, donations poured in from around the globe.

Thanks to their devotion and sense of personal responsibility towards the environment, Josiah and Ridgely have inspired thousands of people do join the cause. The boys were featured on local news stations and newspapers, and even appeared in Time Magazine for Kids.

“It would be a tragedy to survive a ton of mass extinctions and have them wiped out by a human mass extinction,” said Josiah, commenting on the eradication of nautiluses.

The boys’ campaign was also acknowledged by University of Washington’s biology professor and expert on nautiluses, Peter Ward, who confirmed that the initiative has made a major contribution to conservation efforts.

+ SaveTheNautilus

Via Treehugger

Lead Photo: WCSH Channel 6 /Screen capture