Nine Endangered Marine Species
10th edition of Marine Life monthly post. Marine Life post is published every 19th of the month. It aims to share information on specific marine life species and to promote their conservation. All images are taken by Indah Susanti unless stated otherwise.
Endangered Species Day was celebrated every year on the third Friday in May. The day was intended to promote the importance to protect the endangered species to keep the nature in balance. According to Marinebio.org, the numbers of endangered species from marine life are on the rise. The threats to them are difficult to recognize as they are not as visible as the animals on the land. However, they do have similar vulnerability and even more vulnerable than the wild animals on the earth.
I have been dreaming to see some of the endangered marine species during my dives, but they were not easily to spot on. Let me introduce nine endangered species that I have seen or I wish to see. I do hope they will last for many more years.
Bluefin Tuna fish
Maybe I should stop wishing to see schools of bluefin tuna during my dives. Bluefin tuna meat is popular fish meat, and due to its popularity, the fish became a popular fishing target in the last 30 years. We, humans, managed to reduce bluefin tuna population over 90 percent during that period and had caused the Atlantic bluefin tuna vanished from the ocean. Further information and pictures of bluefin tuna, please visit The Tale of the Bluefin Tuna.
Corals – Staghorn
IUCN Red List, an international organization deals with the conservation status of species, noted that several species of staghorn corals (Acropora) have been reducing exceeding 80 percent over the past 30 years and classified as critically endangered. The decreasing, number of these corals due to climate change and human-related factors. It is going to be a big issue for our ocean if we lost these corals completely as they are contributing to reef growth, providing habitat and food source for other marine species.
I hope someday I will visit the United States to swim with the manatee before they vanish from our ocean. The manatee also called as a sea cow and has a characteristic of being slow swimmer mammal on shallow waters. Its number is declining due to hunting practices for their oil and bones. More information on the manatee, please visit Defenders of the Wildlife.
The numbers of groupers in the Caribbean are decreasing. While its vulnerable existence is still on the debate, the fact is groupers are slow breeder species. They might be unable to catch up with human’s increasing needs for fish meat, fishing hobbyist and as well the damaging coral reef after the climate change. When I was diving in Belize and Cuba, I had a chance to dive with Nassau grouper which is classified as endangered species in the Caribbean. Most groupers are solitary and territorial fish. However, Nassau grouper usually more ‘friendly’ to human that makes them an easy target for spearfishing. Goliath grouper is the second favorite target after the Nassau. It’s estimated that the population of groupers has declined by 80 percent in just 40 years.
Diving with the hammerheads is our dream dive, and I guess I have to fulfill this dream sooner! Hammerhead sharks are harmless to humans; from nine species of hammerhead sharks, only three species that considered dangerous to humans. The species of hammerhead sharks such as the Great Hammerhead and Scalloped hammerhead are endangered. Meanwhile the rest of the hammerhead species numbers are decreasing and classified as vulnerable by IUCN Red List. Last year, Indonesians were shocked by the sales of hammerhead pups in a chained supermarket. Thanks to social media like Twitter and Instagram, this issue made into public nationally and internationally that demanded the withdrawal of the hammerheads from the market and banned the endangered/vulnerable marine species for sale. The meat was taken away from the market. However, there was no clear sanction against the distributors.
This image was taken by Girl Gone Expat in Alaska. Lucky her to see the Sea Otters in its protected natural habitat! The Sea Otters were used to be hunted for their fur and meat that caused a serious declining number of its population. The Sea Otters are now enjoying full protection in Canada and the United States. More story of Girl Gone Expat on the Sea Otters, please visit her wonderful post: Playful Sea Otters.
WWF stated that nearly all species of sea turtles were in the endangered status. They were killed for their meats, shells, and eggs. I have been diving with them in Indonesia and the Philippines. Sea turtles are the most relax marine species I have ever seen. It has been chosen to represent an environmental cause conserving the marine ecosystem because the turtle is one of the longest living animals on earth that outlived the Dinosaurs!
Sea Cucumber is a popular dish for Asians, but it is only recently the dish with sea cucumber meat gains popularity in Indonesia. If you wonder why these species play a role for the healthy ocean; according to IUCN Red List, it ingests organic matter, bacteria as well as plant and animal detritus and re-utilizes residual food and feces. Nowadays its population is decreasing. Most species are not under threat status, however, one specific species, Japanese Spiky Sea Cucumber is classified as endangered species. Who knows what will happen to the rest of the sea cucumber species in the next coming years.
Shark Project estimates 26-73 million sharks dying because of finning. I have been diving with several shark species like Thresher Sharks, Caribbean Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Black/White Tip Sharks and Epaulette Sharks. These species are categorized by IUCN Red List as vulnerable species with decreasing population. There are shark species such as Borneo shark and Speartooth shark, that considered endangered and likely to vanish from our ocean if the finning keeps ongoing.
The shark finning is sadistic and inhuman practice. Usually, people cut only the fins of the sharks and throw the sharks alive back to the ocean and let them die under the sea. Just imagine if your legs and hands were cut and being left alone dying. That’s how cruel the shark finning practice is.
My apology if my post sounds frustrating. I can not ignore the fact that the ocean and its population are often taken for granted. The truth sucks and if we can do something, we can start doing things as suggested by the National Geographic’s 10 Things You Can Do to Save the Ocean. Let’s keep our planet blue!