Featured Image Credit: NOAA Fisheries
Today marks Endangered Species Day – a day that is an opportunity for everyone to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and the conservation efforts underway to protect them.
Started in 2006 by the United States Congress, Endangered Species Day is a celebration of the nation’s wildlife and wild places. Every year on the third Friday in May (and throughout the month), zoos, aquariums, parks, wildlife refuges, museums, schools, conservation groups and environmental organizations throughout the country celebrate Endangered Species Day.
In honor of Endangered Species Day, here are a few endangered marine mammals everyone should know:
This gentle beast is found in the tropical regions of all the world’s oceans, gulfs and seas. However, over the last century, their population has been estimated to have declined by 80%. Known to be a subject of heavy trafficking in the tourist trade in tropical regions for its meat and shells, these turtles have been killed mercilessly for quite a period of time.
Stellar Sea Lion
Say hello to the largest member of the Otariid family and the fourth largest of all seal species – the stellar sea lion. These eared seals can be found in the chilly coastal waters of the North Pacific. But since the 1960s its population has declined by more than 60% due to both natural and human threats.
Hammerhead sharks have long been victimized for one thing – their fin. These poor sharks face extremely cruel measures when caught by fisherman. They are dragged on board, get their fins cut off while they are still breathing, and then most of the time they are thrown back into the ocean where they eventually sink to the bottom of the ocean, suffocate and die.
Swimming along the shallow, murky waters off the shore of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, is the world’s smallest and most endangered cetacean – the vaquita. Gill netting for fishing can be thanked for the decline of this species since the 1940s. To date, there are estimated 500-600 vaquita left in the entire world.
It’s sad to think that the largest living mammal and perhaps the most spectacular mammal on earth in on this list. While migrating from both poles in the oceans around the world, blue whales fall victim to excessive commercial hunting. , the blue whale could be found migrating from both poles in the oceans around the world. Currently, it is estimated that only 3000-5000 blue whales still exist.
Hawaiian Monk Seal
These cuties have unfortunately been facing threats from disturbing human activities for the sake of meat, oil and skin, dominating number of males than females, starvation, fishing nets and debris, and predation of Tiger sharks and Galapagos sharks. They are found mostly found around the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Only about 1100 seals are left, struggling for existence.
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle
The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is the rarest sea turtle and is endangered to a severe degree. Only around 500 of this marine species is left due to habitat loss, marine pollution, and entanglement in fishing nets.
One of the larger rorqual species, these massive whales can be found in oceans and seas all around the world. They can migrate up to 25,000 kilometres a year. Accidental entanglement in shrimping gear, collisions with vessels, and marine pollution are the reason why there are only around 2,500 humpback whales left worldwide.
While this type of dolphin is found mostly in the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean, they face threats of hunting, entanglement in fishing nets and marine environmental changes. They are also hunted illegally for their meat. However, recent conservation measures have made this species one to not worry about too much.