Sea animals extinction risk
Small ocean fish have a brighter future than larger fish or marine animals, according to a new study.
The larger the fish or marine animal, the greater risk it will become extinct And human fishing and preference for larger species is likely the primary cause.
Accordng to researchers, this extinction is unlike previous mass annihilations, when smaller creatures tended to be more likely to die off, and “may disrupt ecosystems for millions of years,” the research found.
“What’s happening now is really different from what has happened in oceans in the past,” said Jonathan Payne, a paleobiologist at Stanford University and study lead author.
Researchers examined fossil records of nearly 2,500 examples of both extinct and current sea creatures for the study, which was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Science. Vulnerable or threatened species in the report include the great white shark, the blue whale and the Pacific bluefin tuna.
The list of modern at-risk animals was taken from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, said the Los Angeles Times.
Noel Heim, a co-author of the study, told the Times that the oceans could face unexpected consequences if it loses its largest marine animals.
“We might be skimming off the top of the food web, or changing the distribution of temperature and energy,” said Heim, a postdoctoral researcher in Payne’s Stanford lab. “A blue whale diving down to feed might mix a whole lot of ocean water. A larger clam will mix more sediments than a smaller one.”
There is hope of reversing the startling new pattern, said Jonathan Payne, a paleobiologist at Stanford University and study lead author.
“There is still time for humans to change their behavior,” he said. “We can’t do much to quickly reverse the trends of ocean warming or ocean acidification, which are both real threats that must be addressed. But we can change treaties related to how we hunt and fish.”
Fish populations also have the potential to recover faster than climate or ocean chemistry, he added. “We can turn this situation around relatively quickly with appropriate management decisions at the national and international level.”