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Marine Science



WWF-UK Comment on ICUN Red List –  New assessments by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released yesterday show 316 chondrichthyan species – sharks, rays and skates, and chimaeras – are now threatened with extinction.

The Red List updates include over 420 assessments of shark and ray species, of which 154 species are classified as “threatened,” or at risk of extinction in the wild. Among them are four hammerhead shark species (Sphyrna family) and four species of angel shark (Squatina family) that are endangered or critically endangered, making them some of the most threatened shark families, as well as the giant manta ray (Mobula birostris), which is now facing a very high risk of extinction.

Dr Simon Walmsley, Chief Marine Adviser at WWF-UK said: 

“These shocking figures are no surprise. We’ve been witnessing the alarming decline in sharks and rays for the last two decades and yet the unsustainable fishing of these crucial species has continued – unabated. ”

“These animals have evolved over 400 million years and sadly we’re now pushing them to the brink of extinction. Our ocean is in crisis and if we’re going to secure a healthy future for our seas, we need urgent action from the global community to stop this destruction of our marine life.”

Other species

All five of the world’s river dolphin species are now threatened with extinction after the IUCN Red List re-classified the tucuxi, moving it from Data Deficient to Endangered.

According to the IUCN Red List, “this small grey dolphin species found in the Amazon river system has been severely depleted by incidental mortality in fishing gear, damming of rivers and pollution.”

As part of the South American River Dolphin Inititative (SARDI) WWF has been working with governments, partners and communities to conserve the tucuxi dolphins, including gathering the data upon which their new classification was based. The information on their status and behaviour, which can now be found on the South American river dolphin dashboard, will also be critical to developing effective ways to safeguard them and the rivers they inhabit.