PETA and other activists’ focus on SeaWorld and its killer whales isn’t just inaccurate and incorrect, as we have reported here on Awesome Ocean before, it is actually detrimental to conservation efforts and to the very survival of our planet.
Activists paint the picture of a “Hollywood ending” for the release of zoological animals into the wild. By doing this they are perpetuating a fantasy that our wild spaces are thriving, when the reality is stark and grim.
While the whales living in captivity may be living different lives than those living in the wild, they are also living lives where they will never have to wonder if there will be enough Salmon, or if they will be struck by a whale watching boat, or get caught in fishing line. Animals in our oceans are faced with incredible threats, many of which are caused by humans. Those threats should be making today’s headlines, not some insane anti-SeaWord campaign.
Here are 25 species that are facing extinction today
1. The Vaquita – A small porpoise found in the Gulf of California in Mexico is facing incredible odds against man-made threats and is on the brink of extinction.
Number Remaining: Less than 100
Major Threats: Commercial fishing, habitat loss, and pesticides
What you can do: Support Marine protection for the Gulf of Mexico
2. Yangtze finless porpoise – A small porpoise found in the Yangtze River in China is facing an uphill battle due to development growth destroying habitat in China and its food supply disappearing.
Number Remaining: 1,000 – 1,800
Major Threats: habitat loss, overfishing of the river
What you can do: Help the World Wildlife Fund’s effort to preserve this species.
3. Blue Whale – The largest animal to ever live on this earth is still in trouble and in need of help to protect it from big threats in our oceans.
Number Remaining: 10,000 – 25,000
Major Threats: Ship strikes, fishing gear, toxins, climate change and habitat loss
What you can do: You can adopt a whale and that money will be used to help scientists and organizations save this amazing animal
4. Bluefin Tuna – This amazing animal can dive to over 4,000 feet and is a popular dish around the world. But due to overfishing and a lack of knowledge about the lifecycle, this amazing animal is on the verge of extinction.
Number Remaining: 40,000
Major Threats: Ghost fishing, over fishing and a lack of knowledge
What you can do: Support organizations like the WWF that are helping to preserve Bluefin Tuna
5. Fin Whale – While commercial whaling has all but ended, today it is still the largest threat for this 80-foot-long mammal.
Number Remaining: 50,000 – 90,000
Major Threats: Commercial whaling in Japan and Iceland
What you can do: Support the IWC and efforts to end commercial whaling.
6. Galápago Penguin – The only penguin species found north of the equator, it has found itself victim to climate change, overfishing and domestic dogs introduced to the Galapagos Islands.
Number Remaining: less than 2,000
Major Threats: Pollution, bycatch, climate change and domestic dogs species
What you can do: You can adopt a penguin from the WWF and that money will be used towards conservation efforts to help preserve Galapago Penguin.
7. Ganges River Dolphin – This freshwater dolphin was discovered in 1801 in India and has found itself to be a victim of bycatch and pollution as more and more people rely on the Ganges river for food and development.
Number Remaining: 1,200 – 1,800
Major Threats: Bycatch, Pollution
What you can do: Support the WWFs Gange River Dolphin project in India.
8. Hectors Dolphin – The smallest and rarest marine dolphin in the world is found in the shallow shores on the West Coast of New Zealand’s north island. It has found itself a victim of commercial fishing near the coastline.
Number Remaining: 7,000
Major Threats: Commercial fishing, seabed mining, coastal development and boat strikes
What you can do: Support experts who are working to make policy changes on how fishing nets are deployed and used near coastal waters in New Zealand.
9. Florida Manatee – Located in fresh and salt water areas on the coast of Florida, the Manatee has fallen victim to climate change, pollution, boat strikes and commercial development.
Number Remaining: 3,200
Major Threats: Boat strikes, climate change, pollution and habitat loss
What you can do: If you live in Florida you can join various manatee organizations that put on events throughout the year that help improve the habitat area for the Manatee.
10. Hawaiian Monk Seal – Found on the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, the Monk seals’ primary prey animal that has seen a steady decline in its population due to human created issues in the ocean from fishing, debris and garbage.
Number Remaining: 1,100
Major Threats: fishing nets, human trash and debris
What you can do: Support UC Santa Cruz‘s efforts to save the Hawaiian Monk Seal.
11. Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle – In the 1940s there were over 100,000 of these sea turtles. Today those numbers have dwindled to just a few, primarily driven by habitat loss, poaching and plastics.
Number Remaining: 500
Major Threats: Egg poaching, habitat loss, pollution and entanglement in fishing line
What you can do: Support accredited zoos, aquariums and marine parks that rescue and rehabilitate these critically endangered animals.
12. Polar Bear – Found in the Arctic region, the world’s largest bear has found itself extremely vulnerable to climate change with disappearing sea ice, unregulated hunting and pollution caused by Arctic drilling.
Number Remaining: 20,000 – 25,000
Major Threats: Climate change, hunting, pollution
What you can do: Join organizations to pass legislation that will help protect polar bear habitat and prevent drilling in the Arctic region.
13. Short-nosed Sea Snake – Found only in the coral reefs of Western Australia, this sea snake has seen a 90% decline in population over the past decade primarily due to climate change.
Number Remaining: 1,300 – 1,600
Major Threats: Coral bleaching, habitat loss, bycatch and trawling nets
What you can do: Support the protection of reefs in Australia and help to reduce the affects of global climate change.
14. Ornate Sleeper Ray – Located off the eastern cape of South Africa, this ray has found itself a victim of habitat degradation.
Number Remaining: Unknown
Major Threats: Divers, habitat degradation, pollution and over fishing
What you can do: Support sustainable ecotourism and support efforts to prevent climate change.
15. Hawksbill Turtle – Between 1950 and 1992 over 2,000,000 were hunted for their shells and used to make turtle shell products. More recently, they have become victims of bycatch, habitat loss and climate change.
Number Remaining: 8,000 – 16,000
Major Threats: Poaching, pollution, bycatch, habitat loss and climate change
What you can do: Support organizations that rescue, rehabilitate injured turtles and responsible eco tourism.
16. Galápagos Fur Seal – Once hunted heavily by fur hunters, the fur seal is now fully protected from hunting and poaching. Now this species is falling victim to climate change, fishing entanglement and pollution.
Number Remaining: 6,000 – 8,000
Major Threats: Pollution, entanglement and climate change
What you can do: Support sustainable ecotourism and support legislation to curb climate change
17. Sei Whale – Large scale commercial whaling decimated this species’ populations and they have not bounced back. Today, Sei whales are being affected by climate change, commercial whaling and fishing gear.
Number Remaining: 14,000
Major Threats: Commercial whaling, pollution, global warming, ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear
What you can do: Support the WWF’s efforts to end the commercial whaling of whales, support organizations that help disentangle whales.
18. Sea Otter – Once hunted for their fur, sea otters first got protection in the early 1900s. Today, they have made a comeback. But sadly because of oil spills, pollution and fishing gear, sea otters are endangered in the ocean.
Number Remaining: 125,000
Major Threats: Oil spills, pollution, fishing gear and climate change
What you can do: Support organizations that rescue and rehabilitate injured sea otters. Support legislation that helps to combat climate change and take action locally if you live in the Pacific Northwest.
19. North Atlantic Right Whale – Once a target of commercial whaling, the North Atlantic Right whale was first protected by the IWC in 1935. Today, its biggest threats are boat strikes and fishing gear entanglement. Scientists believe that Right whales are having a difficult time reproducing due to pollution and toxins in the ocean.
Number Remaining: 350 – 450
Major Threats: Fishing gear, boat strikes, pollution and climate change
What you can do: Support the IWC and the ban on commercial whaling and support NOAA’s effort to reduce ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.
20. Spear tooth Shark – Found in Queensland and in the Northern Territory of Australia, this shark has seen drastic declines in its populations due to pollution from mining operations, commercial fishing and recreational fishing in its brackish coastal habitats.
Number Remaining: 250 – 2,500
Major Threats: Mining operations, commercial fishing, recreational fishing and habitat destruction
What you can do: Support efforts but the Australian government to protect its critical habitat from pollution from mining operations.
21. Dugongs – Found in Southeast Asia and Australia, this cousin to the manatee is finding its food source harder to find as coastal pollution is killing sea grasses in the Indian Ocean.
Number Remaining: 85,000
Major Threats: Coastal pollution, fishing gear entanglement, indigenous hunting
What you can do: Support groups working to save the Dugong in its native coastal waters, by trying to reduce pollution and create protected areas.
22. Great White Sharks – Found in every ocean around the world, these apex predators have found their populations decimated by humans who cut their fins off to be served in shark fin soup.
Number Remaining: 3,500
Major Threats: Shark fin soup, fishing gear, poaching, pollution, climate change
What you can do: Do not support restaurants that serve shark fin soup, support organizations trying to end shark fin soup.
23. Giant Devil Ray – Found in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the giant devil ray’s populations have declined due to habitat degradation and being caught when fishermen are fishing for other fish.
Number Remaining: 1,600
Major Threats: bycatch, driftnet, habitat degradation
What you can do: Support organizations that are trying prevent the conservation of Giant Devil Rays and preventing them from becoming by catch during commercial fishing.
24. Hooded Seal – Largely hunted in the 19th and 20th centuries for their fur, the hooded seal is now fighting climate change as its sea icepack habitat begins to disappear.
Number Remaining: 592,000
Major Threats: Climate change, oil spills, hunting
What you can do: Support organizations that are working to end seal hunting and support legislation that will curb climate change.
25. Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle – Hunted by humans for food and the destruction of its habitat on the Yangtze River in China has left this turtle extinct in the wild.
Number Remaining: Extinct In The Wild
Major Threats: Habitat destruction, human consumption
What you can do: Support the species survival plan by zoological organizations who are the last remaining hope for the survival of this species.
Since 2013, PETA and other radical activists have been desperate to keep SeaWorld in the news. Tactics include using ploys from frivolous lawsuits, attempts to disrupt the Macy’s Holiday Parade and having a discredited ex-trainer push an anti-SeaWorld book.
The parade of insanity continues as lobbyist Naomi Rose and killer whale-harasser Ingrid Visser have pulled out the stops, making misleading videos where they misidentify whales and introduce legislation which is not based on credible science.
What about focusing on conservation efforts for other marine species, especially endangered populations?
PETA, and others, are simply too busy with self-promotion and spreading misinformation about SeaWorld.