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5 Facts You Need to Know About Endangered Sea Creatures

2017-08-31

Sadly, due to a changing climate and the harmful effects of human behaviour, many sea creatures across the world are becoming endangered. The oceans are home to an astonishing amount of life, from the gigantic blue whale (measuring up to 29.9 metres, and weighing up to 173 tonnes), to the miniscule paedocypris progenetica fish (measuring a tiny 7.9 millimetres).

There are many ways that you can help protect the world’s oceans, by making small changes to your lifestyle. This includes the following:

  • Always binning your rubbish and never littering, wherever you are
  • Recycling your waste where possible
  • Buying eco-friendly fish (MSC-certified)
  • Cutting down on your carbon footprint by travelling on foot or via bike, where possible
  • Conserving water by remembering to switch off the tap, and opting for showers over baths

We’ve uncovered some fascinating facts and some terrible truths about marine life and the state of our oceans.

Water Takes Up the Majority of the Earth’s Surface

Did you know that about 72 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water? Water is an essential part of life for every living thing, whether that’s you and me, or the millions of sea creatures living in waters around the globe.

About 97 percent of all of the Earth’s water is found in the oceans, with the rest in freshwaters, lakes, rivers, and icecaps. With this in mind, we can paint a clearer picture of just how vast an ecosystem there is spread across Earth’s waters, whilst humans inhabit a very minor landmass in comparison.

The Ocean Is Home to Millions of Species

There is no exact figure yet of how many marine species are currently living in the world’s oceans. The World Register of Marine Species was launched in 2008 to catalogue all marine life, but the list is far from complete. Marine experts have estimated anything between 1 million and 10 million sea creatures. As new species are discovered all the time and many species border on the point of extinction, we may never have a clearer figure.

However, the astounding number of sea-lifeforms highlights just how important it is us for us to look after our waters and shorelines.

Many Sea Creatures Are Classified as Vulnerable

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently lists more than 360 marine species as endangered already or vulnerable of becoming so. Some of the best-known of endangered marine life includes the hawksbill turtle, the monk seal, the angel shark, and the blue whale.

We house many sea creatures that are under threat, ensuring that they are kept in healthy habitats that mimic natural conditions. Make sure you visit our freshwater fish and ray exhibitions to spot some of the rarer species that are sadly declining in numbers in the wild.

There Are Outstanding Volumes of Waste in the Ocean

Back in 2014, it was estimated that there were 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Scientific studies found that more than 269,000 tonnes of that debris floated on the surface of the ocean, while a shocking amount more littered the deep sea.

These figures are rising every day, with ocean trash becoming a major concern for the welfare of sea creatures big and small. Waste is causing a number of horrific problems for marine life, including the following:

  • Waste is being ingested, thereby causing poisoning or choking
  • Creatures are becoming trapped or tangled in waste materials
  • Materials are releasing harmful chemicals, thereby polluting creatures and their underwater habitats

Coral Reefs Are Hidden Underwater Kingdoms

Fantastically, coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine lifeforms on the planet. The sheer variety of life that inhabits and relies on coral reefs actually rivals that of the major tropical forests around the world, such as the Amazon. Although coral reefs can be found all around the world, they take up very little space in the ocean (less than one percent).

The beauty of these underwater kingdoms is mesmerisingly diverse, but, although they have survived tens of thousands of years, the changing climate and human pollution is threatening these ecosystems. Overfishing, careless tourism, pollution, oil spills, and climate change are all taking their tolls on reefs around the world.

Perhaps the most well-known coral reef is the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, which comprises over 3,000 individual reef systems, and is abundant with vibrant marine life and more than 400 different types of coral. The site has been classified as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Help Protect the Earth’s Oceans

If you want to find out more about conservation and how you can help protect the marine lifeforms that call our oceans home, the guides and aquarists here at Blue Planet Aquarium will be happy to answer your questions. Book your tickets for the aquarium and dive into the wonderful underwater world that is living tens of thousands of metres below us every day. We host daily talks and feeds, so there’s always something new and interesting to learn.