Boys raise nearly $10,000 to help save chambered nautilus

SEATTLE -- They walked through the halls of University of Washington's Biology Department like they were born to be there.

But the truth is Josiah Utsch and Ridgely Kelly had just flown in from Portland, Maine. The two boys share an obsession -- the chambered nautilus.

"They're cool creatures and all creatures deserve to be protected," said Utsch.

The pair found a kindred spirit across the country in a UW biologist, Dr. Peter Ward.

"It's a species that's come down to us from hundreds of millions of years," said Ward of the nautilus.

One of nature's aesthetically-perfect creations, the nautilus has been pushed to the brink of extinction because it looks good on a desk.

"The shell trade is almost entirely going to America," said Ward. "Americans are buying these shells, put 'em on their knick-knack, whatever. You take something out of the food chain and bad things happen."

That's where the boys come in.

"It's not like only adults can make a difference," said Utsch. "Younger people can make a difference, too."

Utsch wrote to Ward. And the kids got to work and created the website

They got other kids involved. Kelly designed special "save the nautilus" cards. The kids sold T-shirts.

All their hard work led up to a very special moment on Tuesday when they were able to hand over a check for almost $10,000 to Ward.

The doctor was incredibly touched.

"These boys, out of the blue, they show up in my life. And they're doing what I hope all their generation does -- start thinking scientifically," he said.

They're just two young boys, but they are wise beyond their years and ready to take full ownership of their world.

"We want to let kids know why this is good, because this is the next generation," said Utsch. "If we teach them to just buy shells and not care about them, then that's what's going to happen. It's going to be disastrous."

"We can get research done," said Kelly. "We can get things done to help save them, and eventually's making a difference."
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