The Banggai Cardinal (Pterapogon kauderni) has been a favorite fish in the aquarium trade for decades. It’s beautiful color and unique behavior made it popular in just about every aquarium circle imaginable, and many hobbyist sought them out in large numbers in order to display their schooling behaviors in captivity and fulfill general curiosities about the species. Unfortunately, the limited number of Banggai cardinals in the wild and its small home range has led to overexploitation by the aquarium trade, which has pushed this beautiful species to the brink. Fearing the inevitable, the hobby responded to concerns of dwindling wild populations of Banggais by taking progressive steps to preserve the species through captive breeding. Despite the hobby’s best efforts, the fish’s wild populations were still a major concern. Fortunately, a new project headed by the industry’s top minds has focused in on these gorgeous fish in hopes of a turnaround in the trend.
The Banggai Rescue Project, as it has been called, is the collective efforts of Ret and Karen Talbot, Matt Pedersen, and James M. Lawrence (all well known forces within the aquarium trade), who are being accompanied by an assortment of biologists, ecologists, and journalists. The goal of the project is to produce a book (which will be available in hardcover, softcover, and e-book editions) highlighting this amazing species, and the project organizers hope their efforts will result in changing the likely bleak future of these fish into a far more positive one.
To gather the appropriate data required to fill such a book, an interdisciplinary team has been organized to travel to the Banggai Islands to view the fish in their natural habitat. In addition to field studies, the captive breeding of the Banggai cardinals will also be explored, with experienced breeders likely to try already successful and potentially new techniques to bring these fish back from the edge of extinction.
In order to be a success, the Banggai Rescue Project will need plenty of help from the aquarium industry and others concerned about wild fish populations. The project, which is planned for May 2012, is currently seeking donations to help pay for travel expenses, fund breeding projects, and purchase other necessities in order for it to be fruitful. Any size donation will help the project reach its target goal of $25,000, but if you feel inclined to donate generously, various rewards packages are being offered. To donate, please visit the Banggai Rescue Project on Kickstarter.
There is literally too much information about this project to tackle with one article. So be sure to stay tuned for more information, and we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this project and will be updating the AquaNerd Blog accordingly.
Thanks Matt informing us about this project. We wish you and the rest of your team the best!