Extinction fears over WHALES as species now has ‘real and imminent’ risk of vanishing forever
WHALES, dolphins and porpoises are facing ‘imminent’ extinction, according to over 350 experts who signed a letter calling for global action.
The scientists and conservationists from 40 different countries are warning that the sea creatures could disappear forever if we’re not careful.
They claim that more than half of the 90 living species of dolphins, whales and porpoises are of conservation concern.
Pollution and exploitation of the sea, like over fishing and destructive fishing methods, are listed as issues in the letter.
Lack of action over these problems has already put two whales on the ‘knife-edge’ of extinction.
They are the critically endangered vaquita whale and the North Atlantic right whale.
The scientists want more political action to be taken[/caption]
There’s said to be less than 10 vaquitas left in the wild.
Senior marine scientist with Humane Society International Mark Simmonds coordinated the letter.
It states: “We, the undersigned scientists, raise here our gravest concerns about the extinction risk to many species and populations of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises).
“Each one of us is a cetacean specialist and each one of us believes this issue is now critical.
There’s only a few hundred North Atlantic right whales in our oceans now[/caption]
“The lack of concrete action to address threats adversely affecting cetaceans in our increasingly busy, polluted, over-exploited and human-dominated seas and major river systems, means that many, one after another, will likely be declared extinct within our lifetimes.
“Even the large whales are not safe.”
Whale populations that recovered from bans on mass hunting are still facing very real threats from human actions like plastic pollution and ship collisions.
Accidental deaths in fishing equipment is said to be the biggest threat.
That kills around 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises a year.
Scientists think if we act now we could avoid preventable extinctions but slow action could result in needless deaths and a loss of lots of different species for future generations.
The letter explains how a lack of political action has already led to dramatic declines.
The scientists want countries with dolphins, whales and porpoises in their waters to monitor and protect them.
This includes the UK and the US.
Here’s what you need to know about the endangered species…
- The vaquita is a species of porpoise — a group of whales closely related to dolphins
- All whales, dolphins and porpoises are known as cetaceans — and the vaquita is the smallest of the lot
- They usually grow to a length of around one and a half metres
- The vaquita lives only in the northernmost waters of the Sea of Cortez in northwestern Mexico
- It wasn’t scientifically recorded as a species until the 1950s and its first descriptions were based on three skulls found on the coast
- The vaquita is extremely shy and elusive — so the first photograph of a living one was not captured until the 80s
- Vaquita use echolocation, like dolphins, to navigate through the environment
- Scientists estimate population data by using special tech to pick up on these echolocation sounds
- Three large-scale visual surveys have been conducted to help assess the vaquita population
- In 1997, an estimated 567 vaquitas remained
- By 2008, this number dropped to 245
- By 2015, the population was estimated at less than 60
- In 2016, the population this plummeted by 50% to only 30 animals
- The most recent visual observation work only recorded 6 vaquita sightings
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