The effects of human activity, from climate change to pollution, are “devastating” marine life, with almost a tenth of underwater plants and animals assessed so far at risk of extinction, the latest report revealed on Friday. Red List of Threatened Species.
The report’s release coincides with a UN nature summit in Montreal where UN chief Antonio Guterres urged countries to end an “orgy of destruction” and strike a deal to halt and reverse the habitat loss.
More than 1,550 of the approximately 17,903 marine plants and animals assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature are threatened with extinction, according to the latest list which acts as a barometer of biodiversity and is published several times a year.
“It shows that we are having a pretty devastating impact on marine species,” said IUCN Red List Manager Craig Hilton-Taylor.
“Underwater, you don’t really see what’s going on. And so by assessing the status of the species, it gives us a real indicator of what’s really going on there, and that’s not good news.
Hilton-Taylor said the proportion of marine species threatened with extinction was likely much higher than current data shows, because those analyzed so far tend to be widespread fish species, which are currently only not threatened.
Populations of dugongs, a plump, gray herbivorous mammal commonly known as the sea cow, have fallen to less than 250 adults in East Africa and less than 900 in the French territory of New Caledonia, the report said. IUCN.
Among the threats they face are the loss of their main food source, sea grass beds, due to oil and gas exploration and production in the case of Mozambique and pollution due to nickel mining. in the Pacific.
The latest list looks for the first time at species of abalone, a type of mollusc sold as a luxury seafood, and found that around 44% of them are threatened with extinction. Increasingly severe and frequent marine heat waves have caused mass deaths, stoking disease and killing their food sources, according to the IUCN.
In South Africa, poaching has ‘devastated’ some abalone populations, while pollution from agricultural and industrial runoff has ‘wiped out’ other abalones in part of the Arabian Peninsula, according to the IUCN in a communicated.
Pillar coral, a Caribbean species resembling erect stalactites, slipped into two categories, from “vulnerable” to “critically endangered”.
Its population has declined by more than 80% across much of its range since 1990 amid bleaching and disease.
And the Pillar Coral is just one of many in danger; in the Atlantic Ocean, nearly half of all corals are at risk of extinction due to climate change and other factors.
“The appalling status of these species should shock us and spur us to urgent action,” said Amanda Vincent, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Marine Conservation Committee.
Global wildlife populations have fallen by an average of 69% between 1970 and 2018, a dangerous decline resulting from climate change and other human activities, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warned in a report in October.