The unprecedented unnatural extinction of these species has not only the endangered functioning of the ecosystem but also affected the ecological issues to a large extent.
From unknown creatures to Charismatic megafauna, these disappearances in the ecosystem happen frequently. On land, animals like orangutans, Black Rhinos, Amur Leopard and Giant Pandas are some of the most critically endangered species in the world.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), hundreds of marine species across the world come under the categories of endangered and critically endangered.
IUCN, at regular intervals, determines the status of species considering the probability of their extinction, from least concern to extinct. A list of some of these majorly endangered and recognizable marine species.
Let’s take a look at THESE endangered ocean species and marine animals.
1. Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate)
Found in the tropical regions of the world’s oceans, gulfs and seas- mostly in coral reefs. The Hawksbill Turtle’s population has an estimate to have declined by 80% over the last century.
They are popular to be a subject of heavy trafficking in the tourist trade in tropical regions for their meat and shells. These turtles have been killed mercilessly for quite a period.
The colorful shells of the Hawksbill Turtle, with beautiful patterns, make them a valuable item in the market, often sold as “tortoiseshell.”
Even though harvesting of its eggs is ban in many counties, they could not cease the practise entirely. The declination of its population has also resulted due to the degradation of coral reef species, which the Hawksbill Turtle primarily feeds on.
According to marine conservatives, this family of the turtle is the living representative of reptiles that have existed in our oceans for the past hundred million years. However, these turtles are vital for the existence of seagrass beds and coral reefs.
2. Vaquita (Phoeocna sinus),
An inhabitant of the shallow, murky waters off the shore of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. Vaquita is the world’s smallest and critically endangered cetacean.
This rare marine mammal is on the brink of extinction only a half-century after its first sighting. Features of Vaquita include the dark rings around their eyes, lips with dark patches, and a thin line from the mouth to dorsal fins.
Extensive use of gill-netting for fishing in the Gulf of California has endangered this marine species. Moreover, resulting in a gradual drop in population since the 1940s.
The gill-netting operation may have ceased to exist in 1970. But the population fall persists by as much as 15% yearly.
According to reports, there are only a dozen of these marine mammals left in the world. Since the percentage of decline in their population was as much as 90% since 2011.
3. Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
The largest living mammal on earth. The blue whale belongs to the baleen whales and features more than 100 feet in length and around 200 tonnes in weight.
There are at least three subspecies of Blue whales, and these could be seen migrating from both poles in the oceans around the world. Sits on top of the food chain, whales have a significant role in maintaining a healthy marine environment.
Unfortunately, excessive commercial hunting has resulted in a decrease in its population drastically. Meanwhile, now has posed a threat to its mere existence even though they constituted an international ban in 1966. According to IUCN’s 2016 estimate, the global population of the Blue Whale is 10,000–25,000.
4. Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, also known as the Atlantic Ridley sea turtle. It is the rarest and smallest sea turtle and is endangering to a severe degree.
Primarily found in the Gulf of Mexico, the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle often migrates to the Atlantic Ocean only to come back to lay eggs. This group of turtles has a unique way of nesting habits. The female turtles arrive in large numbers- a procession called Arribadas- on a single beach to lay eggs.
Unfortunately, conditions include loss of habitat, marine pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, etc. Nevertheless, have resulted in the massive decline of the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle population.
Thus, harvesting eggs is illegal now, and research projects of incubating and hatching the eggs in temperature-controlling rooms have been undertaken to save this endangered marine species.
5. Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopiasjubatus),
The most prominent member of the Otariid family and the fourth largest of all seal species. However, this eared seal could be located in the cold coastal waters of the North Pacific, also known as the northern sea lion. The species naming after Georg Wilhelm Steller, a naturalist who first discovered them in 1741.