Oceans Run Red: The World’s Most Critically Endangered Marine Species
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, some 180 marine species are listed as “Critically Endangered”. A further 235 are “Endangered”, 636 “Vulnerable” and 526 “Near Threatened”. However, the IUCN itself points out that the marine realm is very poorly represented in the Red List, comprising less than 5% of all the species included. The likelihood exists therefore that there are hundreds if not thousands more species which could be placed into any one of these categories were it not for lack of data relating to their numbers, distribution or, even more fundamentally, the mere knowledge of their existence.
So, who tops the list of the world’s most critically endangered marine species? If you’re hoping for any cute, cuddly and oh-so-charismatic creatures, then you’re going to be sorely disappointed; these list toppers generally bottom out when it comes to beauty. But, being the nice gal that I am, I’ve taken the trouble to trawl through (oops, my bad!) the list in attempt to bring you something at least a little bit “Awww-worthy”; so here they are - my fave five - the best of the briny bourgeois…
Vaquita (Phocoena sinus):
(Ok, so technically speaking this first one packs a bit of an “Awww” factor, but anyway…)
With adults measuring not much more than 1.2-1.5 metres in length, the vaquita is the smallest of all known porpoises and indeed, of all known cetaceans. It also has the distinct misfortune of being the most endangered. Also known as the Gulf of California Harbor Porpoise, owing to the fact that it is only found the northern quarter of Mexico’s Gulf of California, vaquitas were only first discovered as recently as 1958. Fishing in the area is thought to have greatly impacted vaquita numbers as due to their small size they have a high vulnerability to entanglement in gillnets. Last estimates (1997) put the population size at not much more that 500 individuals and it is highly probable that there are currently even far fewer.