The manatee – a large herbivorous marine mammal commonly known as a “sea cow” – is now threatened with extinction, according to an official list updated Friday.
These docile cousins of the manatee eat seagrass in shallow coastal waters — but their populations in East Africa and New Caledonia are now included in the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature). health) are “critically endangered” and “endangered”, respectively. .
Globally, this species is still classified as “vulnerable”.
Their main threats are accidental capture of fishing gear in East Africa and poaching in New Caledonia, as well as injury to boats in both locations.
In East Africa, fossil fuel exploration and production, pollution and illegal development are also depleting food sources for seagrasses, while in New Caledonia, seagrasses are being destroyed by sewage. agriculture and pollution from nickel mining, among other sources.
Habitat degradation is compounded by climate change in the manatee’s range.
“Today’s IUCN Red List update presents a perfect storm of unsustainable human activity that is wreaking havoc on marine life globally,” said Bruno Oberle, IUCN Director General.
The updated list comes as delegates from around the world meet in Montreal for a United Nations biodiversity conference aimed at finalizing a new framework for a “peace with nature”. , with the main goals of preserving the forests, oceans and species of the Earth.
In other updates to the IUCN list, 44 percent of all abalone shellfish species are now threatened with extinction, while pillar corals have transitioned to “critically endangered”.
Abalone species are considered a delicacy, leading to unsustainable exploitation and poaching by international organized crime networks, for example in South Africa.
They are also very vulnerable to climate change, with a heat wave at sea killing 99% of Roe abalone off the coast of Western Australia in 2011.
Agricultural runoff and pollution also cause harmful algal blooms, eliminating the Omani abalone, a commercial species found in the Arabian Peninsula, over half of its former range.
Twenty of the 54 species of abalone in the world are currently threatened with extinction.
Howard Peters of York University, who led the review, said: “Abalone reflects humanity’s destructive responsibility to protect our oceans in the microcosm: overfishing, overfishing, and so on. contamination, disease, habitat loss, algal blooms, warming and acidification, among a number of threats.”
“They really are the canaries in the coal mine.”
The pillar coral, found throughout the Caribbean, has gone from “vulnerable” to “critically endangered” after its population shrank by more than 80% across most of its range since since 1990.
Bleaching caused by rising sea surface temperatures – as well as antibiotics, fertilizers and wastewater entering the oceans – has made them highly susceptible to Stony’s coral tissue disease, a disease that has devastated populations of corals. them for the past four years.
Overfishing around coral reefs has added pressure by depleting herbivorous fish populations, allowing algae to dominate.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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