There so many endangered marine animals and species in the world right now, but here are the 10 most endangered marine animals in the world currently, these animals need some help in order to survive and not go into extinction.
This article is fully about the endangered marine or sea creatures; their names, facts, physical appearance and abilities, and the reasons why they are endangered will all be written down here.
Top 10 Endangered Marine Animals
Some of the animals here are also listed among the endangered marine mammals, while some are not mammals at all but are also endangered. Below are the top 10 most endangered marine animals in the world:
- Vaquita (Phocoena sinus).
- Sea turtles (Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae families).
- Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus).
- Dugong (Dugong dugon).
- Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus).
- Pacific Salmon (Salmo Oncorhynchus).
- Sea Lions (Otariinae).
- Porpoises (Phocoenidae).
- Whale (Balaenoptera, Balaena, Eschrichtius, and Eubalaen Families).
- Seals (Pinnipedia).
Vaquita (Phocoena sinus)
Vaquita is a species of porpoise and one of the endangered marine animals, it is currently the rarest species in the world, it is the rarest marine animal in the world, it is the rarest marine mammal in the world, and also the rarest and the most critically endangered animal in the world.
Vaquita is the smallest known living cetacean in the world, it has a tall and triangular dorsal fin, a nearly-round head, and has no clearly visible beak unlike other species of porpoises. Vaquita was properly discovered in and recognized just lately in 1958.
Newborn vaquitas have a gray color over their head down to their flukes; this unusual color disappears as they grow older. The older vaquitas have a dark-colored ring-like patch around their eyes and also have dark patches on their lips; these patches on their lips stretch along the side of their bodies to the pectoral fins.
Vaquitas have white-colored ventral surfaces (undersides), dark-gray dorsal surfaces while their sides are pale gray in color, thus giving them a remarkable and dist6inct appearance that is different from that of other sea creatures. July 24, 2021, has been set aside as the ‘international save the vaquita day’ in a crucial attempt to save the species from extinction and take their name out of the list of endangered marine animals.
Location: Vaquitas are found only in a small part of the Northern Gulf of California (Vermilion sea) in Mexico.
Diet: Vaquitas are generalists when it comes to feeding as they eat nearly every creature they find available.
Length: The females are larger than the males; the females grow about 4.9 feet while males grow about 4.6 feet, vaquitas, however, can reach a size of 5 feet.
The number of surviving individuals: There are only about 8 vaquitas left in the world right now.
Weight: Vaquitas have an average size of 43 kilograms but can weigh as much as 54.43 kilograms.
Reasons Why Vaquitas Are Endangered
- The use of gillnets in bycatch from the unlawful totoaba fishery is the major reason why vaquitas are endangered, the totoaba fish is in high demand because of its swim bladder, which is considered a rare and special delicacy by the Chinese who pay an enticing $46,000 per kilogram of it if dried.
- The use of sophisticated modern types of equipment in commercial fishing.
- Loss of habitat due to climate changes.
Sea Turtles (Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae Families)
Sea turtles are among the endangered marine animals, there are 7 species of sea turtles in the world and five of them are endangered, these five species are also among the top 15 endangered species in the Philippines. This includes the green turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead turtle, leatherback turtle, and olive ridley turtle.
The green turtle is notable for its electric-green colored body, the hawksbill turtle is popular for its bill-shaped mouth which gives it a bird-like look, the loggerhead turtle is well known for its large head, and powerful jaws, the leatherback turtle is easily distinguished because it has a soft shell instead of a hard one and an enormous size, while the olive ridley turtle is identifiable for its small size and olive-colored body.
These species of sea turtles spend a great part of their lifetime in the open sea while occasionally coming out to the coastline to bask, make nests, lay, and hatch their eggs. The population of these species has suffered a rapid decline in the recent couple of centuries and they are now included in the list of endangered marine animals.
Location: Sea turtles are found living in nearly every ocean basin in the world, they nest and bask only on tropical and subtropical coastlines.
Diet: Young sea turtles are omnivores while grown sea turtles are carnivores with the exception of green sea turtles which are pure herbivores… maybe that’s why they are green!
Length: Sea turtles have an average size of 2 to 3 feet in length except for leatherback sea turtles which grow up to 10 feet in length.
The number of surviving individuals: About 300,000 of these 5 species are left in the wild.
Weight: Sea turtles have an average size of 100 kilograms except for leatherback sea turtles which can weigh as much as 750 kilograms.
Reasons Why Sea Turtles Are Endangered
- Huge demand for the meat and shells of sea turtles, which has resulted in consistent hunting and poaching of sea turtles is the major reason why they are among the endangered marine animals.
- Raiding of sea turtles’ breeding grounds in quest of getting their eggs for food.
- Loss of habitat due to climate change, industrial and coastal developments.
- Loss of breeding grounds due to climate change; climate change changes soil temperature which affects the sex of the hatchlings, this then results in the dominance of one sex.
- Accidental capture of sea turtles in commercial fishing.
- Some species of sea turtles eat jellyfish, the poison of the jellyfish as intoxicants for them just as hard drugs do to humans, as a result of the effects of addiction they eat leather bags thinking they are jellyfishes and this leads to their death.
Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)
The whale shark is one of the endangered marine animals, it is a species of shark but quite larger than other species of shark, although they are enormous in size, whale sharks never been recorded or known to attack and kill humans, so they are not dangerous.
Whale sharks sometimes attack humans when they feel offended, however, these attacks are always mild and could easily be wielded off with long sticks, it is quite interesting to note that whale sharks have throats sizeable enough to swallow humans even though they have never done that before.
They are called whale sharks because they are as big as whales and make use of the filter-feeding mechanism in feeding just as most species of whales do but they are easily identified as sharks because they have no bone but cartilage. Despite their enormous and intimidating size, they are now classified as endangered marine animals.
The whale shark moves slowly and feeds mainly on plankton, it breathes through the gills as every fish does, it is the largest of all species of shark, the largest non-mammalian vertebrate, and has a lifespan of 80 to 130 years, it is mostly found in the tropical oceans; out in the open waters and it is very rarely found in areas where the water temperature is below 21 degrees centigrade.
Location: Whale sharks are found in the open oceans of tropical areas, especially where the water has a temperature up to 21 degrees centigrade.
Diet: Whale sharks eat planktons and small fishes.
Length: Males grow an average of 28 feet in length while females grow an average of 48 feet, the biggest recorded length of a whale shark is 62 feet.
The number of surviving individuals: Whale sharks have a population of about 10,000 individuals left in the wild currently thus they merit the list of endangered marine animals.
Weight: Whale sharks have an average weight of 19,000 kilograms.
Reasons Why Whale Sharks Are Endangered
- Whale sharks are endangered because of the impact of vessel strikes in commercial fishing and trapping in by-catch which is sometimes accidental.
- They have a long lifespan combined with late maturity which results in a low reproduction rate thus causing them to be listed as one of the endangered marine animals in the world.
- They are highly valued on the local and international markets for their meat, body oil, and fins; this is the major reason why they are now grouped among endangered marine animals.
Dugong (Dugong dugon)
The dugong is a large and grey-colored mammal they are one of the endangered marine animals in the world and their population has been on a steady decline for some thousands of years, dugongs spend their entire lifetime in the open sea while moving to the shallow waters to breed their calves just as whales.
Dugongs have tails that resemble that of whales; they are slow swimmers ad move by swinging the broad tail up and down while supporting the movement with their two forelimbs (flippers), their slow movement and defenselessness are among the reasons they have found themselves among endangered marine animals.
Dugongs are also known as sea cows, they have no dorsal fin or hind limbs as seals do, they possess snouts that are steeply bent downwards which helps them to effectively feed on seagrasses, they also have peg-like and simple molar teeth.
The dugong is being legally protected in most countries, and also declared bans on all products and derivatives from dugongs, despite all these they have never been able to leave the list of endangered marine animals. The dugong is restricted is found in mainly in the coastal habitats as it feeds on seagrasses which are abundantly found in the coastal areas.
Location: Dugongs swim the tropical and sub-tropical coastal waters around over 40 countries of the world, spanning across Australia, the Indian ocean, and the pacific.
Diet: Dugongs are pure herbivores and eat varieties of seagrasses.
Length: Dugongs grow an average of 10 feet, the maximum recorded length of a dugong is 13.32 feet in length.
The number of surviving individuals: There are roughly between 20,000 to 30,000 dugongs currently roaming the waters.
Weight: Dugongs have an average weight of 470 kilograms, the maximum recorded length of a dugong is 1,016 kilograms; this individual was found in India.
Reasons Why Dugongs Are Endangered
- Accidental entanglement in shark nets that are meant for the purpose of bather protection, entanglement in fishing nets, and debris are the major reasons why they are now one of the endangered marine animals.
- Degradation and destruction of habitats sustaining the growth of seagrasses.
- Unsustainable hunting; primarily on the increase because of its defenselessness and prized meat which has cultural significance; thus resulting in high demand for its meat.
- Long lifespan, late sexual maturity, and slow reproduction rate.
- Effects of poor water sanitation and poor waste management.
Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)
The humphead wrasse is a species of wrasse that is larger than other species, it is one of the endangered marine animals, it is also called Napoleon wrasse, Māori wrasse, and Napoleon fish, these sea creatures are hermaphrodites; they change from female sex to male sex in a lifetime.
During breeding seasons, the adults move to the down-current side of the reef to spawn, the females lay pelagic eggs which are spherical and have an average diameter of 0.65 millimeters, which means the eggs are 2344.61 times smaller than an average adult humphead wrasse!
The humphead fish is one of the largest species of fish found on coral reefs, their bodies are covered in diamond patterns, coupled with scales of blue, yellow, and green colors, these diamond patterns are more visible on the bodies of juveniles, between the ages of 5 and 8 years, they begin to grow large lips and humps on their heads.
Despite their huge and intimidating gigantic sizes, these creatures are gentle and harmless to humans, this has given men the freedom to hunt them from abundance to endangered marine animals currently facing extinction.
Location: The humphead wrasses are found on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region.
Diet: They are carnivores and eat hard-shelled sea creatures such as mollusks and crustaceans, they also feed on echinoderms such as sea urchins and starfish, it also has the bio-chemical abilities to eat venomous creatures like the chest fish without getting harmed.
Length: They have an average length of about 5 feet, but can reach up to 6.6 feet in length.
The number of surviving individuals: Since 2010, over 860 humphead wrasse have been released back into the wild; making the population of humphead wrasses rise to 2,500.
Weight: Humphead wrasses have an average weight of 145 kilograms, the largest weight ever recorded for an individual is 190.5 kilograms.
Reasons Why Humphead Wrasses Are Endangered
- Humphead wrasses have a slow breeding rate and late sexual maturity, thus making it easier for them to be enlisted among the endangered marine animals.
- The high demand and value of humphead wrasses and their meat in Southeast Asia results in excessive fishing of the species.
- Use of dangerous and destructive fishing methods in their habitat.
Pacific Salmon (Salmo Oncorhynchus)
There are five species of Pacific salmons in the North Pacific of Canada and the United States, these are chum, sockeye, pink, coho, and chinook, pacific salmons are one of the endangered marine animals.
Young salmon hatch and start life in freshwater bodies (streams, lakes, and rivers), at a later time of their lives; at the stage which they are referred to as molts, they move into the saltwater bodies (open seas) of the North Pacific Ocean where they grow to adulthood.
During breeding seasons, the salmons return to the place of their birth to spawn, this return to the shallow freshwater bodies exposes them to many predators, it might be a major cause of pacific salmons being among the endangered marine animals.
Location: Pacific salmons are found in the Northern part of the Pacific, streams, rivers, and some other freshwater bodies.
Diet: Salmons eat krills, crabs, and shrimps; these shellfishes contain a substance called astaxanthin, it is because of this substance that salmons have a pale pinkish-red color.
Length: The average length of Pacific salmons ranges from 50 to 70 centimeters for the 7 species of Pacific salmons, the average maximum length recorded for the species is 76 to 150 centimeters.
The number of surviving individuals: There are about 25 to 40 billion salmons in the world.
Weight: They have an average weight of 7.7 to 15.9 kilograms.
Reasons Why Pacific Salmons Are Endangered
- Overfishing is the major reason why pacific salmons are now among endangered marine animals.
Sea Lions (Otariinae)
Sea lions are one of the endangered marine animals, seal lions are classified as pinnipeds; which is a general group name for all semi-aquatic animals with long fore flippers, a big chest and belly, short and thick hair, and the ability to work on all fours.
Sea lions are brown in color, they have the ability to stand up and walk on all fours, they bark loudly, they sometimes become very noisy, they sometimes congregate in large groups, sometimes a group contains more than 1,500 individuals.
There are six living species of sea lions: steller’s or northern sea lion, California sea lion, Galápagos sea lion, South American sea lion or Southern sea lion, Australian sea lion, and New Zealand sea lion, also known as Hooker’s or Auckland sea lion. Over 50 species of sea lions are now extinct, so it is our obligation to protect the few existing species from extinction.
Only 3 species of sea lions have been listed among the endangered marine animals; the Australian sea lion, the Galápagos sea lion and the New Zealand sea lion, while the others are listed as near threatened or least concerned.
They can be found across the coasts of Central California, Aleutian islands, eastern Russia, South Korea, Japan, the western part of North America, southern Canada, mid-Mexico, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, easter part of South America, western and southern parts of Australia, and New Zealand.
Location: Sea lions are found in and around coastal areas.
Diet: They feed on fish, most especially salmons.
Length: Females grow an average to an average length of 6 to 7 feet while males grow 4 – 14 feet.
The number of surviving individuals: There are only about 10,000 sea lions left in the wild.
Weight: On average females weigh 200 to 350 kilograms while males weigh 400 to 600 kilograms.
Reasons Why Sea Lions Are Endangered
- Loss of their natural habitat especially because of man-made activities.
- Illegal hunting and trapping.
- Environmental pollution and degradation are also major reasons why sea lions are now listed as one of the endangered marine animals.
- Ship strikes and accidental capture in fishing nets when they go hunting.
- Reduction in prey availability due to climate change.
The porpoise is one of the endangered marine animals, and also one of the endangered marine mammals, porpoises look like miniature dolphins although they are more related to belugas and narwhals than to dolphins.
There are seven species of porpoise, they can easily be identified by their flattened teeth which have rectangular shapes, and a short beak that is rounded at its peak
Porpoises have no external ear flaps, a nearly stiff neck; caused by the fusion of the neck vertebrae, a torpedo-shaped body, a tail fin, small eye sockets, and eyes at the sides of their head, and they are mostly dark grey in color.
Porpoises have two fore flippers, a tail fin, porpoises do not possess fully developed hind limbs, rather they possess discrete rudimentary appendages, which may contain feet and digits, they are also fast swimmers; this should be of many advantages to them, it is surprising they made the list of endangered marine animals.
Location: Porpoises are found living in the Northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, the Northern part of the Pacific Ocean, and also in the Beaufort Sea.
Diet: They eat small flatfish, herring, sprat, mackerel, and benthic fish.
Length: They have an average length of 5.5 feet, the maximum size ever recorded for an individual porpoise is 7.89 feet.
The number of surviving individuals: There are only 5,000 porpoises in the world currently.
Weight: The average weight of porpoise ranges from 32 to 110 kilograms among the six species of porpoise.
Why Are Porpoises Endangered
- Entanglement in fishing nets is the major why porpoises are now included in the list of endangered marine animals.
- Loss and degradation of their natural habitats by man, through pollution, and acoustic noise.
- Attacks from grey seals, dolphins, and killer whales.
Whales (Balaenoptera, Balaena, Eschrichtius, and Eubalaen Families)
Whales are the biggest of all endangered marine animals, whales spend their entire lives in the ocean, only moving to the shallow water to give birth and raise their calves through the early stages of their lives.
There are two types of whales; the baleen whales and the toothed whales. The baleen whales possess no teeth but some plates of baleens with which they filter feed on small sea creatures while the toothed whales possess teeth that enable them to feed on larger sea creatures, they swallow any creature that can fit in their throat.
Female whales are larger than males, whales are the largest known living creatures in the world but they are not violent.
The global population of whales shave drastically reduced in recent decades, now many laws and regulations have been put in place in many countries of the world for the purpose of saving the whales from extinction as they are now classified as endangered marine animals.
Location: They are found in every ocean of the earth.
Diet: Whales are carnivores, eating mostly krill and squids.
Length: They are 62.3 to 180.4 feet long on average.
The number of surviving individuals: There are currently 3,000 to 5,000 whales living in the world right now,
Weight: Whales weigh 3,600 to 41,000 kilograms on average.
Why Are Whales Endangered
- Overfishing by humans leaves the whales with little fish to feed on.
- Pollution of water bodies and hunting of whales by humans are the major reasons why whales are now listed as one of the endangered marine animals.
Seals are one of the endangered marine animals, they possess streamlined bodies and have four flippers, they are fast and flexible when moving in the water, they move either by pushing against the water with the hind flippers or pulling it towards themselves with the for flippers.
Seals can move around on land using the four flippers, though not as well as terrestrial animals, they have eyes that are relatively large for their sizes, these eyes are positioned by the side of their heads, very near to the front of their heads.
Seals have white, grey, or brownish-black colors, sometimes with black, brown, white, or cream-colored spots. They are capable of learning and can be trained to perform tasks, and are also used for entertainment purposes.
Location: Seals are found in nearly all waters and beaches of the world.
Diet: Seals are carnivores, and feed mostly on fish.
Length: Seals have an average length of 17 feet.
The number of surviving individuals: There are 2 million to 75 million seals in the world.
Weight: They have an average weight of 340 kilograms, the maximum recorded weight of a single individual is 3,855.5 kilograms.
Why Are Seals Endangered
- Accidental trapping or entanglement in fishing nets.
- Pollution of water bodies by humans and intentional hunting are the major causes or reasons why seals are now listed as one of the endangered marine animals.
This article is purely focused on endangered marine animals and the reasons why they are endangered, it is good to note that every species is an animal but not every animal is a species.