Lincoln-based photographer captures image of 15,000th endangered species
LINCOLN — Joel Sartore’s ambitious project to photograph the approximately 20,000 endangered species on the planet hit a milestone recently with images of a sunflower-seed-sized beetle in south Florida.
The Miami tiger beetle — a relative of Nebraska’s Salt Creek tiger beetle — was the 15,000th species threatened with extinction photographed by the Lincoln-based, National Geographic photographer.
Sartore’s “Photo Ark” project, begun in 2006 in Nebraska, has a goal of photographing species before they disappear.
The project was recently honored with placement on a U.S. Postal Service stamp.
A conservationist who works with the iridescent green-and-gold colored beetle called it an “honor” that the Miami beetle was the landmark, 15,000th species photographed.
“It is too often that the small, less classically charismatic species are overlooked in mainstream conservation efforts,” said George Gann, founder/executive director of The Institute for Regional Conservation in Delray Beach, Florida, and chair emeritus for the Society for Ecological Restoration.
Sartore has said that his goal in the Photo Ark project is to inspire people to preserve and protect species that are on the decline.
“When people look through my lens, I want them to gain an appreciation for how interesting each species is, how worthy of protection they are, and how important each one is to keeping our planet healthy,” Sartore said in a press release Monday.
That goes for even a species as small as the Miami tiger beetle, he said. It is one of 2,600 species of beetles and is found only in the pine rocklands of southern Florida. The endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle is found only in saline marshes near Lincoln.
“When we take action to protect wildlife, we are safeguarding our own future too, and there is no better time to act than right now,” Sartore said.
The announcement of the 15,000th Photo Ark image on Monday comes as the National Geographic Society holds a monthlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. It was also a prelude to Giving Tuesday, a day of philanthropy for nonprofits such as the National Geographic Society.