10 Endangered Ocean Animals: Happy Endangered Species Day!

Hector's Dolphin
Maui's Dolphin photo by WWF/Will Rayment

10 Endangered Marine Animals

1. Maui’s Dolphin: found off of New Zealand, only 55 individuals remain

2. Northern Right Whale: found in Atlantic Ocean, only 350 individuals remain

3. Vaquita: small dolphin found off of Baja Peninsula, Mexico, 500-600 remain

4. Mediterranean (less than 400 remain) and Hawaiian Monk Seals (approximately 1100 remain)

5. Sea Turtles: 6 or the 7 species of sea turtles are endangered (Green, Hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead, and Olive Ridley)

6. Staghorn Coral: has declined by 98% in the Caribbean since 1980

7. Beluga Sturgeon: hunted for their caviar (eggs), 1100 remain in the Caspian Sea

8. Coelacanth: an ancient order of fishes, considered the most endangered order in the world

9. Southern Sea Otter: up to 2,300 individuals remain

10. Bluefin Tuna: as few as 25,000 mature individuals remain

Disclaimer: There are hundreds of ocean species that are endangered (1,000’s if you consider the animals and plants we have yet to discover). I chose the top ten endangered species that I felt people might have heard of.

UPDATE: As of May 2015 less than 100 Vaquita remain

Sources: allaboutwildlife.com
marineinsight.com
World Wildlife Fund
wonders-world.com
Smithsonian Ocean Portal

Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day in California

pacific leatherback sea turtle is California’s official marine reptile
Leatherback Sea Turtle (photo by Mark Cotter)

I’m Tuga, and I’m a Pacific leatherback sea turtle. Today in California (October 15) is Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day (note: it officially starts in 2013)! That is because I am now California’s official marine reptile! To boot, earlier this year 42,000 square miles of ocean off the West Coast of the United States (off California, Oregon, and Washington) was designated as a protected area for us leatherback sea turtles!

How appropriate California is celebrating my kind, as right now I am off the coast of California feasting on jellies (jellyfish). I just completed my annual 6,000 mile migration across the Pacific Ocean from my nesting beach in Indonesia.

I am one of seven species of sea turtles. I am the largest, at up to 7.2 feet (2.2 m) and 1,500 pounds (700 kg). I am the only sea turtle without a true shell. Instead I have thick leathery skin on my back, hence my name “leatherback!”

I am among the deepest diving marine animals, as I can reach depths of 4,200 feet (1,280 m), and hold my breath for over an hour! The deepest known diver is the Cuvier’s beaked whale, which can dive to 6,500 feet (2,000 m) deep. Elephant seals can dive to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) deep for over two hours.

I also challenge the notion that turtles are slow, as I can swim as fast as 21.92 miles per hour (35.28 kph)!

Six (of seven) species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered. There are only a few hundred of us leatherbacks off the West Coast of the United States. Sea turtles all around of the world are in peril because of:

1. destructive and wasteful fishing methods like long lining (we end up as bycatch)

2. poaching of sea turtle eggs from nesting beaches

3. loss of nesting beaches due to development

4. light pollution, which confuses hatchlings using moonlight to find the ocean

5. plastic pollution

Plastic pollution is the most insidious: a dead sea turtle was found with 74 pieces of trash in its stomach, most of it plastic. 260 million tons of plastic a year finds its way into the ocean, and many animals ingest it, especially us jelly loving sea turtles. Plastic bags suspiciously look like jellies to us, and we can’t help but eat it.

You can help by “precycling,” which means avoiding buying plastic to begin with. If you do buy something in plastic, please recycle it! Also bring your own reusable bags to the store in order to avoid using single use plastic bags that often end up in the ocean. All wildlife in the ocean thanks you for your help! You can make a difference everyday!

For more information on sea turtles, visit Sea Turtle Restoration Project.

For information on sea turtle ecotourism visit SEE turtles.

Sign petition to protect sea turtles from deadly drift gill nets

The Endangered Animals of Finding Nemo: Green Sea Turtles

endangered species in Finding Nemo
Marlin, Dory, Crush & Squirt from Finding Nemo

Did you know that 1 out of 6 animals featured in the movie, Finding Nemo, are endangered? Meet one of them, the green sea turtle:

My name’s Crash. You may know my older bro Crush, dude, and my little nephew Squirt from Finding Nemo. Can you not see my awesome butt (not boat!) in the picture? Radical dude, I was in the movie too! Crush, Squirt, and I are gnarly green sea turtles, heh heh. We live in the righteous warm seawaters around the world, including off of the bodacious Australia where Finding Nemo took place.

There are 7 rad species of sea turtles ocean-wide. It’s totally bogus, but 6 or 7 species are endangered, duuude! Our righteous little eggs are often taken right out of a dudette’s nest by not so gnarly humans. Some dudettes can’t find any righteous beach to poop their eggs in, and city lights can confuse little dudes trying to use the bodacious moonlight to find the gnarly ocean to surf in for the first time, duuude!

When those little dudes and dudettes get to sea, man they better watch out for toootally bogus plastic. It’s everywhere, man. Don’t eat the plastic little dudes, but sometimes I think it’s food too bro! Plastic bags are totally bogus and look like jellies, dude! Watch out for nets too little dudes and dudettes! It’s totally not right, but there are less fishies in the ocean now and more nets to accidentally trap us. Not cool, but at least some righteous humans care! Visit SEEturtles or Sea Turtle Restoration Project to see how you can help, dudes!