Animal Rights

Can Facebook Save Endangered Species?

| by Sierra Club

When Olive" the otter--an oil spill victim rehabilitated by the Department of Fish and Game's Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz--was released into the ocean at Sunset State Beach on April 7, over 900 online fans wished her well on Olive's Facebook page.

Olive's Facebook page is just one example of conservation's connection with new media. The National Wildlife Federation's blog, Wildlife Promise, explains how social media sites like Digg, Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook can be used to protect wildlife. These online tools give environmental organizations the ability to connect quickly with large audiences and fan pages for endangered or threatened animals encourage people to feel personally invested in the future of these species.

Naturally, Olive is not the only animal with an enthusiastic Facebook following. Biologists at the University of California, Santa Cruz have created Facebook pages for 15 elephant seals in order to raise awareness about the species and the importance of marine conservation. The elephant seals' pages feature photos, stories, and research updates. Each seal's relationship status is listed as "it's complicated."

According to Olive's Facebook page, since her release she's been "interacting with other sea otters, eating Dungeness Crab, and enjoying being back home!"

--Della Watson

Want to use social media to protect the planet?
Connect with the Sierra Club on Facebook.