Spotlight on Threatened Marine Life
The Earth is over 70 percent water. All life on Earth is dependent on the oceans. Marine life, including the legendary great white shark and tiny seahorse, has joined the elephant, rhinoceros and tiger as being among the most threatened species, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Overfishing of the great white shark to satisfy the demand for shark-fin soup threatens the creature’s survival. Seahorses are vulnerable because of a rapidly growing market in the Far East for their use in traditional medicines, as well as in the aquarium trade. There are 15 marine species in great danger of becoming extinct, from tiny coral-reef fish to the gigantic southern bluefin tuna.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, 131 of 152 fish species recently studied face extinction because of exploitation by humans and pollution. The wealth of the oceans, once thought inexhaustible, is being depleted. New fishing technology has helped quadruple the world’s catch of commercial seafood since 1950. This efficiency has had deadly consequences for noncommercial marine life as well.
Shrimp trawls, drift nets, and long lines are responsible for killing huge numbers of non-targeted species of fish, birds, turtles, dolphins, and other marine animals. As populations of fish primarily used for human food are depleted, the fisheries shift to new species. A new threat is the overfishing of species, such as squid, that other animals depend on for food. The consequences of undermining the food chain could be dire.