Are boring grey fish worth saving?

Countless animals on land, sea and in the air, are becoming extinct, so how do we choose which animals are worth saving?

At Den Blå Planet we have made an effort to save a small school of Madagascar cichlids from mass extinction. They have most likely completely disappeared in their natural habitats, and there are only 100 left in captivity – 50 of which live at Den Blå Planet. See the video above where keeper Peter Petersen explains more.

Many cichlid variations are colourful and pretty, but there are also some that are grey and don’t appeal as broadly. So, does it make sense to use resources on grey, boring fish, that have no immediate use to humans?

Our planets flora and fauna are in crisis. The oceans are suffering from pollution and overfishing, our rainforests and jungles are cut down and burning, but these facts hardly make headlines these days. As humans continue to overpopulate the earth, consuming more and more by the day, our wildlife is taking the hit. Whole species are being wiped out, and even more are in danger, in what is being called the sixth mass extinction. A report from WWFs Living Planet Report shows that the amount of wildlife living in their nature habitats have been halved.

The last many decades, tireless efforts have been made to save endangered animals. However, a common trend has been noticed amongst organisations who collect resources for their work: campaigns including animals with fuzzy fur and big brown eyes are those that have the most success.

Beauty and the beast

There is a clear coalition between how cute an animal is, and how much sympathy they can create.
Here at Den Blå Planet nothing makes us happier than hearing that the population of pandas, tigers and leopards are on the rise. It is not only important for the environment, but it is encouraging to know that all the resources put into conservation works.

Behind the beautiful mascots of the animal kingdom, are the “ugly” species who are just as endangered. Animals like the blob fish, axolotls, proboscis monkeys and Asian tapirs are threatened too.

These animals don’t have the same commercial value as the fluffy pandas and elegant tigers we know and love, but play just as integral part of keeping our planet in balance.

Historical Loss

Imagine how sad you would feel if you dropped a beautiful vase your great grandma had bought in the 19th century, or the feeling of loss when the 2000-year-old Palmyra temple in Syria was destroyed. Losing a piece of history is always heart breaking, and it is with the same perspective we view a loss of species. No matter their appearance, an extinct species is a loss of millions of years of evolutionary progress.

Animals big and small, ugly or cute, all have an important role to play in the ecosystem. Even though it may not come naturally to love a tiny grey scaled fish with no immediate personality traits, that tiny grey fish may play an integral role in the ecosystem that surrounds you.

At Den Blå Planet we hope we will be able to breed more Madagascar-cichlids, and share them with other aquariums. In this way, we hope to be able to return this extremely endangered animal back to their natural habitat, and give them a chance to be part of their ecosystem again.