CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Josiah Utsch and Ridgely Kelly are 12 years old and care deeply about a sea creature that's 500 million years old.
It's called the nautilus and is related to the octopus. The nautilus' existence is being threatened due to jewelry makers who are paying deep sea fishermen for the shells. They then use the nautilus to make necklaces causing the population to severely deplete over the past couple of decades. That's why these two 6th graders are working with Dr. Peter Ward, a professor at the University of Washington, who has made it his mission to save the nautilus. Josiah and Ridgely are raising money to help fund Dr. Ward's research to stop fishermen from catching the nautilus.
"If you find one on the beach in Samoa, that's absolutely fine," Josiah Utsch said. "The stuff that we're worried about is deep net fishing, and these people don't even get anything for it. They get a dollar per shell, they take a dollar per shell, and then these people sell it for 80 dollars plus."
Josiah and Ridgely are flying out to Washington state to meet Dr. Ward, whom they consider an inspiration, and present him a check of all the money they've raised so far. Their goal is to raise $15,000, and right now they have about $7,000. All the money goes directly to Dr. Ward's deep sea dives that they hope will prove the nautilus should be on the endangered species list.
Here's a link if you'd like to donate to their cause.