World Oceans Day: Let’s take action for the big marine animals

Large marine mammals are more threatened than ever before. Worse yet: the disappearance of some marine species, which are considered unique, will have a devastating impact on ecosystems. On this World Oceans Day, warns of this emergency revealed by researchers at Swansea University in the UK (04/04/2020).

Sharks, whales, polar bears, sea turtles, emperor penguins… all these marine animals are threatened with extinction within a century. Among them, some of them have unique ecological functions whose conservation, by definition, is essential.

Mega marine animals are in danger of extinction

According to a study by English researchers, large marine mammals – those whose body mass exceeds 45 kilograms – are at risk (science progressApril 2020). If the scenarios imagined by researchers unfortunately come to fruition, 40% of marine megafauna could become extinct by 2120…

Today, the ecological roles of marine species are under greater threat from human pressures.

Dr. Catalina Pimento

the reasons ? Climate change is repeatedly itself responsible for exceptional weather events, rising temperatures and ocean acidification. To this is clearly added the intensification of human activities, through, in particular, resource exploitation, pollution – including noise – but also industrial fishing, or even sea transport.

Our previous work showed that megafauna underwent an unusually severe period of extinction in which sea level fluctuated several million years ago.And Sorry to Dr. Catalina Pimento, Study Director. Our new work shows that their unique and diverse environmental roles today face an even greater threat from human pressures. » Additional evidence, if necessary, of this massive loss of biodiversity.

“If we lose species, we lose unique ecological functions”

This finding is the most worrying given that All of these species play key roles in ecosystems, including consuming large amounts of biomass, transporting nutrients through habitats, and connecting ocean ecosystems. »Sorry, academics.

This is a warning that we must act now to reduce the increasing human pressures.

Dr. John Griffin

More specifically, the disappearance of the so-called “FUSE” (Functional, Unique, Specialized, Endangered) species will have a significant impact on functional diversity, to the point of degrading ecosystems: “If we lose these species, we lose unique ecological functions”Dr. John Griffin, co-author of the study, warns. Among them: green tortoise, golden julian carp, sea otters, dugong, giant clam. If these species become extinct, it is unlikely that other species will play a similar ecological role.

Renewed interest in these species will help ensure that the ecological functions provided by marine megafauna are preserved. Scientists reassured. Hence the imminent need for conservation policies on a global scale. Because it’s never too late to act: This is a warning that we must act now to reduce the increasing human pressures on marine megafauna, including climate change, while promoting the recovery of the population. »warns Dr. John Griffin.

This challenge to be met determines the survival of marine mammals and their ecosystems – finally – For all mankind.

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