Friday, November 27, 2009

Marine Extinction - one

Talking about getting the facts right.

When writing that post, I was reminded of a recent lunch with a fellow Shark conservationist.
We were comparing the image of terrestrial vs aquatic apex predators and he looked at me and said that contrary to the fishermen, the hunters had never led to the extinction of a species.
Passenger Pigeon (mass ornicide) anybody? Quagga, pictured above?

I of course went looking and found these lists.
Heaps upon heaps of terrestrial animals, be it Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and even Insects! And freshwater Fishes! Many of which certainly hunted, and fished to extinction! But of course the man was partly right: modern hunters have indeed changed their ways and don't do those things anymore - and I may add, contrary to the game fishermen who still target pregnant Sharks in their stupid quest for trophies!

And how about the Ocean?
How many marine Mammals have gone extinct during the Holocene, i.e. from approx. 12,000 years ago til now? Steller's Sea Cow (hunted to extinction). Caribbean Monk Seal (overhunted). Japanese Sea Lion, possibly only a sub-species (hunted to extinction). Sea Mink, more coastal than marine (hunted to extinction - even before being scientifically described!).
Incidentally, I could not find any marine Cetaceans - yet.

Marine Reptiles?
Can anybody name a single one?

And how about a single marine Fish, Sharks included?

Don't get me wrong: I'm by no means suggesting that the situation is OK.
It is certainly very dire and we must continue working very hard in order to prevent what appears to be the imminent collapse of some of the most threatened species, like the Northern Bluefin, the Flapper Skate, many Sharks and the whole sad lineup on the Red List, many of which Corals. Still, the Ocean is a very very big place and it appears that so far and despite of our very best efforts, its Fishes have managed to dodge everything we've thrown at them, from reckless overfishing to reckless pollution.

Let's just keep that in mind when faced with the apparent hopelessness of our efforts.
It is not hopeless, and we can turn things around.

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