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 species.
IUCN, at regular intervals, determines the status of species considering the probability of their extinction, from least concern to extinct. Some of these majorly endangered and recognizable marine species are named here.
Let’s take a look at THESE endangered ocean species and marine animals.
1. Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate)
Found in the tropical regions of all the world’s oceans, gulfs and seas- mostly in coral reefs, the Hawksbill Turtle’s population has been estimated to have declined by 80% over the last century.
Known to be a subject of heavy trafficking in the tourist trade in tropical regions for their meat and shells, these turtles are being 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 in many countries harvesting of its eggs is banned, the practice could not be ceased completely. 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 representatives of reptiles that have existed in our oceans for the past hundred million years and 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 in the world is on the brink of extinction only after a half-century of its first sighting. Features of Vaquita include the dark rings around their eyes, lips with dark patches, and a thin line from mouth to dorsal fins.
Extensive use of gill-netting for fishing in the Gulf of California has endangered this marine species, resulting in a gradual drop in population since the 1940s.
The gill-netting operation may have been ceased to exist in 1970, but the population fall persists for as much as 15% every year.
According to reports, there is only a dozen of this marine mammal 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 found 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 and now has posed a threat to its mere existence even though an international ban was constituted 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, is the rarest and smallest sea turtle and is endangered to a severe degree.
Primarily found in the Gulf of Mexico, the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle often migrate 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, the conditions such as loss of habitat, marine pollution, and entanglement in fishing nets, etc. have resulted in the huge decline of the population of the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.
Thus, harvesting of eggs has been made illegal and research projects of incubating and hatching the eggs in temperature-controlled rooms have been undertaken to save this endangered marine species.
5. Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopiasjubatus)
The largest member of the Otariid family and the fourth largest of all seal species, this eared seal could be located in the cold coastal waters of the North Pacific. Also known as the northern sea lion, the species is named after Georg Wilhelm Steller, a naturalist who first discovered them in 1741.