Extinct, Endangered, and Threatened Marine Mammals

  • Caribbean Monk Seal: Last reliable report

    Caribbean Monk Seal: Last reliable report
    Image sourceText From WikipediaThe Caribbean monk seal or West Indian monk seal (Monachus tropicalis) is an extinct species of seal. It is the only seal ever known to be native to the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The last verified recorded sighting occurred in 1952 at Serranilla Bank.[1] On June 6, 2008, after five years of futile efforts to find or confirm sightings of any Caribbean monk seals, the U.S. government announced the species is officially extinct, and the only seal to vanish due to human causes.
  • Humback Whale: Endangered

    Humback Whale: Endangered
    Humpback Whale VideoImage SourceText from NOAAHumpback whales face a series of threats including entanglement in fishing gear (bycatch), ship strikes, whale watch harassment, habitat impacts, and proposed harvest. Humpbacks can become entangled in fishing gear, either swimming off with the gear or becoming anchored. NOAA Fisheries has observed "incidental take" of humpback whales in the California/Oregon swordfish and thresher shark drift gillnet fishery. Potential entanglement from gear from several fisheries can occur.
  • Right Whale: Endangered

    Right Whale: Endangered
    Image Source Text from NOAAShip collisions and entanglement in fishing gear are the most common human causes of serious injury and mortality of right whales. Additional threats may include habitat degradation, contaminants, climate and ecosystem change, and predators such as large sharks and killer whales. Disturbance from such activities as whale-watching and noise from industrial activities also may affect the population.
  • Sperm Whale: Endangered

    Sperm Whale: Endangered
    Image Source Text from NOAA The greatest threat for sperm whales has been man, especially with the advent of whaling. Between 1800 and 1987, whalers took a total of at least 436,000 sperm whales, but the actual takes may be as high as 1,000,000. Hunting of sperm whales by commercial whalers declined in the 1970s and 1980s, and virtually ceased with the implementation of a moratorium against whaling by the IWC in 1988. Sperm whales are still being targeted in a few areas.
  • Mediterranean Monk Seal: Endangered

    Mediterranean Monk Seal: Endangered
    Image Source Text from NOAA Mediterranean monk seals have been targeted and killed by fisherman for their oil, meat, hides, and in order to reduce competition for fish and cephalopods. This species is also at risk of entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris.Colonies throughout the species' range have been displaced due to coastal development. Humans, through their direct and indirect interactions, have also negatively impacted these sensitive seals and their natural habitat.
  • Blue Whale: Endangered

    Blue Whale: Endangered
    Image Source Text from Blue whales were significantly depleted by commercial whaling activities worldwide. In the Southern Hemisphere, pre-exploitation population estimates range from 150,000 to 210,000 whales; recent abundance estimates range between 400 and 1,400 whales. In the North Pacific, pre-exploitation population size is estimated as approximately 4,900 blue whales, whereas the current population estimate is a minimum of 3,300 blue whales.
  • Bowhead Whale: Endangered

    Bowhead Whale: Endangered
    Image Source Text Source Historically, bowhead whales were severely depleted by commercial harvesting. They were targeted by hunters because they are slow and big, with large amounts of blubber. They were pursued by European and American commercial whalers for lamp oil and baleen. North Atlantic stocks were hunted commercially for almost four hundred years, beginning in the 15 th or 16 th century. Commercial hunting of bowheads in the North Pacific started when they were discovered in the 1840s.
  • Fin Whale: Endangered

    Fin Whale: Endangered
    Image SourceText from NOAA Commercial whaling for this species ended in the North Pacific Ocean in 1976, in the Southern Ocean in 1976-77, and in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1987. Fin whales are still hunted in Greenland and subject to catch limits under the International Whaling Commission's "aboriginal subsistence whaling" scheme. Other current threats include collisions with vessels, entanglement in fishing gear, reduced prey abundance due to overfishing, habitat degradation, disturbance from low-frequency noise.
  • Gray Whale: Endangered

    Gray Whale: Endangered
    Image Source Text from NOAA Commercial whaling severely depleted both the eastern and western populations between the mid-1800s and early 1900s. Beginning in the mid-1930s, gray whales were protected under a ban on commercial hunting adopted by the League of Nations. This ban was the first international agreement to protect a whale species from commercial whaling operations. The ban on commercial gray whale catches has continued since the late 1940s under the International Whaling Commission. Gray whales are still hunted.
  • Sei Whale: Endangered

    Sei Whale: Endangered
    Image Source Text from NOAA During the 19th and 20th centuries, sei whales were targeted (along with blue and fin whales) and greatly depleted by commercial hunting and whaling, with an estimated 300,000 animals killed for their meat and oil. Other threats that may affect sei whale populations are ship strikes and interactions with fishing gear, such as traps/pots. Location: Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
  • Hawaiian Monk Seal: Endangered

    Hawaiian Monk Seal: Endangered
    Image Source Text from NOAA The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the rarest marine mammals in the world. Part of the "true seal" family, Phocidae, they are one of only two remaining monk seal species. Isolated from their closest relative 15 million years ago, Hawaiian monk seals are considered a "living fossil" because of their distinct evolutionary lineage. Hunted to the brink of extinction in the late 19th century, Hawaiian monk seals have been declining since modern surveying. Threats include food limitations.
  • Southern Sea Otter: Threatened

    Southern Sea Otter: Threatened
    Text from Wikipedia Sea Otter Video Image Source The IUCN describes the significant threats to sea otters as oil pollution, predation by orcas, poaching, and conflicts with fisheries. Sea otters can drown if entangled in fishing gear. They can also be stressed by well-meaning human watchers who approach too closely. The most significant threat to sea otters is oil spills. Sea otters are particularly vulnerable, as they rely on their fur to keep warm. When their fur is soaked with oil, it loses its ability to retain air, and the animal dies.
  • Gulf of California Harbor Porpoise: Endangered

    Gulf of California Harbor Porpoise: Endangered
    Image Source Text from NOAA Also known as vaquitas, Gulf of California harbor porpoises are incidentally taken as bycatch in local gillnet and trawl fisheries. Commerical fishing is by far the greatest threat to individuals, their habitat, and the species overall survival. It is estimated that at least 30-85 individuals are taken incidentally each year. Other possible threats to this species include environmental pollution, habitat degradation, and inbreeding due to low population numbers.
  • Guadalupe Fur Seal: Threatened

    Guadalupe Fur Seal: Threatened
    Image Source Text from NOAA In the 1700s and 1800s, commercial sealers heavily hunted Guadalupe fur seals to the point where the species was thought to be extinct by the early 1900s. Insufficient data exist on the incidental bycatch of Guadalupe fur seals in fishing gear, although some juvenile seals have been documented with entanglement injuries.
  • Stellar Sea Lion: Threatened

    Stellar Sea Lion: Threatened
    Image Source Text from NOAA Anthropogenic (or human-induced) threats to Steller sea lions include boat strikes, contaminants/pollutants, habitat degradation, illegal hunting/shooting, offshore oil and gas exploration, direct and indirect interactions with fisheries, and subsistence harvests by natives in Alaska and Canada (150-300 taken a year). In the 1800s, they were targeted by hunters for their meat (food), fur hides (clothing), oil, and various other products.
  • Indus River Dolphin: Endangered

    Indus River Dolphin: Endangered
    Image Source Text from NOAA Indus River dolphins have been incidentally taken as bycatch in fisheries such as gillnets and longlines. These animals have also been targeted and harpooned by local fisherman for bait, medicine, and meat and oil for consumption. Indus river dolphins are affected by human development and other anthropogenic impacts such as hydroelectric dams and irrigation canals (e.g., Indus Basin Irrigation System) that can separate populations, and reduce and alter suitable habitat.
  • Saimaa Seal: Endangered

    Saimaa Seal: Endangered
    Image Source Text from NOAA There are only about 200-250 Saimaa seals in the world. Unlike most other ringed seal species, Saimaa seals are found only in freshwater. Historically, hunting and interactions with fisheries in the lake were a threat to this species. Today, enhanced conservation efforts and protections limit these threats, but incidental capture in fisheries--except when fisheries are prohibited during breeding season--still occurs.
  • Killer Whale: Endangered

    Killer Whale: Endangered
    Video Image Source Text from NOAA Although all killer whales are protected under the MMPA--and some are protected under the ESA--and they have not been commercially hunted or captured in the past 40 years within the U.S. waters, historic live capture for aquarium display and culling for depredation of fisheries reduced some killer whale populations, especially the Southern Resident stock.
    Today, these killer whales still face many threats caused by human activities, such as contaminants (e.g., PCBs), depletion of prey.
  • Baiji Dolphin: Functionally Extinct

    Baiji Dolphin: Functionally Extinct
    Image Source Text from Wikipedia The Baiji (meaning "left behind,” "flag bearer") was a freshwater dolphin found only in the Yangtze River in China. Nicknamed "Goddess of the Yangtze" in China. The Baiji population declined drastically in recent decades as China industrialized and made heavy use of the river for fishing, transportation, and hydroelectricity. Efforts were made to conserve the species, but a late 2006 expedition failed to find any Baiji in the river. Organizers declared the Baiji "functionally extinct",
  • Beluga Whale: Endangered

    Beluga Whale: Endangered
    Beluga Video Image Source Text from NOAA Belugas are the only cetacean with skin thick enough to be used as leather when tanned. For this and other reasons they have been harvested over the years. Human-caused mortality, primarily legal subsistence harvest by Alaska Natives, has been the most significant source of mortality of this species during recent times. Subsistence harvest is the only factor that can be identified as influencing the decline of the Cook Inlet population.
  • Spotted Seal: Threatened

    Spotted Seal: Threatened
    Image Source Text from NOAA Loss of sea ice is a potential threat to the habitat of spotted seals. Bycatch in fishing gear, such as groundfish trawls, may occur, but annual mortality of spotted seals incidental to fishing is very low. Additionally, spotted seals are incidentally entangled in salmon trap nets off of the Nemuro Peninsula in Japan.
  • The Future of Marine Mammals

    Click here to watch a video of Paul Nicklen, a National Geographic Photographer, discuss how climate change will impact the Arctic environment he loves.