The Indelible Ink of Species Protection

Image: Courtesy of Molly Tsongas
Turtle tatoos. Butterfly body art. Crazy-colored condors. For Molly Tsongas, it’s all about ink and animals (California's endangered species, to be exact). As one of Audubon’s TogetherGreen fellows, she’s been tasked with creating a community-centric project that engages her local crowd. And today marks the start of a challenge she created that pits environmentalists against one another in a good-natured contest to help the animals in trouble in her home state. Fifteen winners each come away with an indelible prize: a brand-new tattoo of a threatened species.
The contest—which Tsongas says she envisions will help people wear species protections on their sleeves—has a few rules. California residents (sorry, in-state folks only) ages 18 to 35, come up with a way to get 100 people to help one of 15 specific endangered species for 100 days. Between now and August 5, post your brilliance on Tatzoo’s Facebook wall (Tatzoo’s what Tsongas called her project), then lobby your friends to like your idea. The 15 with the most likes—plus backing from a panel of activists, tattoo artists, and conservationists—win video cameras to document their environmental-leadership journeys and free tattoos.
More than a dozen Bay-area tattoo artists will donate their artwork to this cause. “It is very important that the endangered species on this planet be seen for the amazing creatures that they are,” says Cedre Csillagi, of Diving Swallow Tattoo, who will create the southern sea otter. “Hopefully this project will create more of a dialogue.”
Tsongas, daughter of the late Massachusetts senator Paul Tsongas, is one of 40 Audubon TogetherGreen fellows selected to earn special conservation training and a $10,000 grant to put toward a community-focused project. “We are on the verge of the sixth greatest extinction in over 25 million years,” she says. “My generation must unleash our fresh ideas, fearless attitudes, and social connectivity to tackle this crisis, starting with our local species and communities.”
Interested? Here are the 15 species to choose from. For detailed info about each, visit the Tatzoo species page:
- Bay checkerspot butterfly
- California red-legged frog
- North American green sturgeon
- San Francisco garter snake
- Black-footed albatross
- Chinook salmon
- Northern spotted owl
- Southern sea otter
- California blue whale
- Fountain thistle
- Presidio clarkia
- Stellar sea lion
- California condor
- Leatherback turtle
- California tiger salamander
“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”