WASHINGTON, DC (November 28, 2023) — At an event last night to honor the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Geographic Explorer and Photo Ark founder Joel Sartore announced that he has photographed the project’s 15,000th species: the endangered Miami tiger beetle (Cicindelidia floridana).
Found exclusively in the imperiled pine rocklands of southern Florida, the Miami tiger beetle is one of the rarest and smallest tiger beetles in the U.S. Today, its habitat in Miami-Dade County covers less than two percent of its original range. Roughly the size of a grain of a sunflower seed, this small but captivating jewel-toned beetle is an emblematic symbol for the plight of endangered and threatened species everywhere facing seemingly overwhelming odds.
Its selection not only pays tribute to the potential of the ESA to bring hope for species facing extinction, but also to the evocative power of the Photo Ark’s images that allow people to look into the eyes of often overlooked and undervalued species and form a sense of connection.
“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 –– even an insect as small as the Miami tiger beetle,” said Sartore. “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.”
To photograph the Miami tiger beetle, Sartore worked closely with fellow Explorer and conservationist George Gann, who is leading a habitat restoration project in the pine rocklands. Gann’s work is funded by the Photo Ark’s Species Impact Initiative –– a program that funds on-the-ground conservation projects and leverages the Photo Ark’s powerful storytelling to help protect at-risk species.
“I am excited for the Miami tiger beetle to receive this honor,” said Gann. “It is too often that the small, less classically charismatic species are overlooked in mainstream conservation efforts. Joel’s images perfectly bring to life the beauty in every species he captures which allows people to appreciate their intrinsic value better and be inspired to gain a deeper understanding of their important roles in the ecosystems they inhabit.”
The announcement of the 15,000th species kicks off the National Geographic Society’s Giving Tuesday and its Hope For Species campaign, a month-long observance of the 50th anniversary of the ESA and its contributions to species survival. To mark the anniversary, the Society is amplifying the impact of Explorers who are working to protect wildlife, safeguard ecosystems, and educate and encourage the public to take action across the United States — Explorers like Sartore and Gann who give us hope for the future of species around the world.
“The National Geographic Photo Ark and the Photo Ark Species Impact Initiative demonstrate the power of storytelling and science working together to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world,” said Ian Miller, the Society’s Chief Science and Innovation Officer. “In the face of unprecedented threats to species across the globe, urgent action to give new hope for species facing extinction has never been more critical. Initiatives like these create empathy for creatures that often go unnoticed or under appreciated while empowering others to take action to protect biodiversity.”
GIVING TUESDAY AND HOPE FOR SPECIES
Giving Tuesday is a global day of philanthropy where nonprofits like the National Geographic Society harness the power of collective generosity. To further its mission and create a lasting legacy for the planet, you can support its #HopeforSpecies campaign and share your commitment to its mission with those in your community and online. Consider making a special tax-deductible gift to the Society today.