Making up more than 70% of the earth’s surface is our wondrous ocean. Barely scratch the surface and life is found. But in all it’s beauty, corrupt exploitation and thoughtless human destruction has left our ocean in a serious state of collapse – and if the ocean dies, so do we. Drum lines, bottom trawlers, overfishing and pollution pose serious threats to the health of the sea and the 230,000 marine species that occupy.
COMING SOON: Individual species pages. Check out an example: Conservation: Tigers
Sharks have been the focus of exaggerated negative press, generated by their sometimes lethal interactions with humans. Declining populations of several shark species, combined with a low capacity to recover from exploitation and high levels of unmanaged mortality in sports fishing, target and by-catch fisheries contribute greatly to the vulnerability of shark species.
Climate change and the erosion of beaches and marine habitats where turtles nest, combined with extreme pollution threats, target and by-catch fisheries and demand for certain species in the consumption trade have been implied as the cause of population declines for several species of the world’s sea turtles.
Alteration of habitat, fishing and use in alternative medicines have contributed to the Gharial’s considerable decline in occurrence – at a rate of over 80% in the last ten years. Threats include creation of dams, use of gill nets in fishing, human occupancy along the species’ nesting sandbanks, consumption of eggs and popularity of parts in alternative medicines.
› VAQUITA PORPOISE
Mortality in gill nets, a popular net used by commercial and artisanal fishermen, has long been recognized as the most serious and immediate threat to the vaquita’s survival. Other potential threats include include inbreeding depression, pesticide exposure and ecological changes to their marine environment through climate change and pollution.
Some species of alligator are affected by loss of habitat and fragmentation of their existing homes through the creation of dams and the destruction of wetlands, rivers and swamps, and have been depleted from their range as a result. Less than 150 chinese alligators remain in the wild, while others fall victim to human animosity and persecution, are are farmed for their skins.
With intense vulnerability to sealers and whalers who trade in seal furs, as well as threats from oil spills, entanglement in net fisheries, warming oceans and persecution by humans, the survival of several species of seal remains in question. Some species of seal appear in limited population size, while others are threatened by hunting and severe habitat fragmentation caused by climate change.
Commercial whaling has severely affected the survival of several whale species. Threats, including exploitation by modern whalers for human consumption and use in experiments, entanglement in fishing gear as by-catch, oil and gas development and expansion of fisheries, industrial and urban pollution, as well as climate change, have continued to deplete whale populations without protection enforcement.
Changes in sea temperature as well as competition with and incidental capture in fisheries, human expansion and activity, and rapid population declines as a result of commercial fisheries pose serious and continued threats to the occurrence and welfare of several species of penguin. Threats to the penguin show no signs of reversion without immediate conservation.
› GIANT OTTER
Water pollution from mining and agricultural run-off, and poisonous contaminants such as Mercury from gold mines in their range have severely fragmented the habitat of the Giant Otter. Over-fishing, combined with commercial hunting for their fur has depleted the species’ occurrence to such an extent, it’s survival is dubious without intense threat mediation.
Direct human threats to the dugong include hunting for it’s meat, use in alternative medicine and skins, tusks and teeth. Threats to the species include accidental killing caused by fishing activity and destruction of their coral reef habitat, combined with marine pollution, eco-system destruction and human urbanisation.
› POLAR BEAR
With their arctic habitat extremely vulnerable to climate change, studies suggest the polar ice cap will disappear almost entirely during summer over the next 100 years. Changes in sea ice force the polar bears onshore for extended periods where they are vulnerable to unregulated hunting. Threats to the species include marine pollution and depleted food sources as well as over-harvest and oil production combined with the use of polar bear furs.
Currently, the primary threats to the platypus are reductions in stream and river flows due to successive droughts, stream regulation, and extraction of water for agricultural, domestic, and industrial supplies, as well as poor water quality, accidental drowning in fish nets and traps, habitat modification and flooding caused by climate change.