10% of marine life is at risk of extinction



by LORENZO CIOTTI

10% of marine life is at risk of extinction

A report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature said that 10% of marine life is at risk of extinction. The publication was made in conjunction with the UN nature summit underway in Montreal, where an agreement is being sought to halt habitat loss.

More than 1,550 of the estimated 17,903 marine plants and animals assessed are at risk of extinction, according to the report. The climate crisis, pollution, intensive and illegal fishing and the spread of diseases are the most incisive factors.

In more than 4 out of 10 cases, threatened species suffer the negative impact of climate change, reports the latest update of the IUCN Red List, published while COP15 is underway in Canada.

10% of marine life is at risk of extinction

Howard Peters, a member of the IUCN Shellfish Specialist Group, told: "Abalones are a small reflection of humanity's disastrous management of the oceans: overfishing, pollution, disease, habitat loss, algae booms, warming and acidification, just to name a few threats.

They really are the canary in the coal mine. Also threatened are 44% of abalone species, molluscs also known as abalones or abalones." the dugong, the largest herbivorous mammal on the planet, enters the IUCN list of endangered species for the first time.

East Africa and New Caledonia are the regions where the local dugong population is most at risk, with 250 and 900 adults respectively. Dugongs are caught unintentionally, also due to the use of bottom trawls, and are subjected to collisions with boats.

But the decline is also due to the production of gas and oil offshore in East Africa, to chemical pollution, and to the death of the algae on which this animal feeds, mainly due to the pollution generated by the extraction of nickel in New Caledonia.

The dugong has a stocky and compact physical structure which has earned it the popular nickname of "sea cow"; in this sirenium, in fact, a horizontal caudal fin divided into two lobes similar to that of the cetaceans is associated with an extremely massive body provided with two thoracic mammary glands and two large flattened, spatula-shaped anterior fins.

Dugong is widespread only in the Indian Ocean, at the western end of the Pacific Ocean, in correspondence with particular groups of equatorial and tropical islands such as Australia, Indonesia, Thailand or Sri Lanka, and in the Red Sea.

A small group lived in the southeast China seas and efforts have been made to protect them and preserve or restore their habitat. The places where the density of the population of dugongs is maximum is on the northern Australian coasts and on the Egyptian shores of the Red Sea.

In other states dugongs are instead a rare species, reaching a maximum of 100 individuals per nation: just think that Kenya, a place where dugongs once abounded, has a total population of only 6 individuals. Also in the aforementioned Japanese Ryukyū islands, habitat of these animals for thousands of years, the situation is tragic, as well as around the island of Okinawa, where only 3 individuals would reside, in Madagascar and in the islands off the eastern African coast.