Monday, June 22, 2009

Oh, How They Go Extinct, Let Us Count the Ways

The website called Worldometers keeps track of various statistics in real time and is reporting the number of species that have gone extinct so far this year at 65,616 as of today.

I would bet that this number relates somewhat to the figure for toxic chemicals released by industries into our air, land, and water this year (tons) which stood at 4,630,443 when I viewed it just a moment ago. It actually kept changing as I watched it.

Watching those counters tick by on those statistics is a real eye-opener. I wondered how many species of marine life were on the endangered species list and might soon be making the counter go up. According to, here is a sampling of a few species on that list:

*Sea-lion, Steller (=northern) (Eumetopias jubatus)
*Seal, Caribbean monk (Monachus tropicalis)
*Seal, guadalupe fur (Arctocephalus townsendi)
*Seal, Hawaiian monk (Monachus schauinslandi)
*Seal, Mediterranean monk (Monachus monachus)
*Whale, blue (Balaenoptera musculus)
*Whale, bowhead (Balaena mysticetus)
*Whale, finback (Balaenoptera physalus)
*Whale, humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae)
*Whale, right (Balaena glacialis (incl. australis))
*Whale, Sei (Balaenoptera borealis)
*Whale, sperm (Physeter macrocephalus (=catodon))
*Salmon, chinook (Sacramento R. winter run)Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
*Salmon, chinook (Snake R. spring/summer run)(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
*Salmon, chinook (Snake R. fall run)(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
*Salmon, sockeye (=red, =blueback)(Snake R., ID, stock)(Oncorhynchus nerka)
*Sturgeon, shortnose (Acipenser brevirostrum)

I would like to find a list of all marine life that are threatened. Looks as though I may have to gather this list together myself when I have the time in order to include only marine life.

There seems to be no problem counting the statistics, but when do we start really counting the ways species are going extinct and how many solutions there might be?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sea Cow Gets Herded Back Out to Sea

One of my favorite marine animals is the manatee. I confess, if it were possible, I'd love to hug 'em and plant a big kiss on their noses.

A manatee, or sea cow, was rescued today by a group of Filipino fishermen that got trapped by low tide on the shore of Palawan island's Puerto Princesa city. This manatee was one of the largest surviving members of the Dugong Dugon subspecies which is endangered.

Read the article here.

Let's hope Enero or January in the Tagalog language, as the fishermen nicknamed her, will have a long and tranquil life back where she belongs.

I cannot imagine the standards of beauty that early sailors might have had when they thought manatees were mermaids. Were women in that day so ugly that their faces could be mistaken for a manatee's? At any rate, manatees became part of the order "Sirenia" which means "siren." Sirens were half-woman creatures that could lure sailors into danger and ultimately, death. The other name for the manatee, which is sea cow, seems to be quite a more appropriate fit in my mind.

Manatees can live up to 50-60 years. They grow to about 9-10 ft. long and weigh on average about 1,000 pounds. They are hunted in South and Central American countries, but the leading cause of death for a manatee is boat collisions or getting tangled in fishing nets. Of course, pollution is affecting this mammal as much as it is others. Get some interesting information on manatees at All About Manatees.

If you are ever in the Columbus, Ohio, area, consider a visit to the Manatee Coast at the Columbus Zoo to visit the current residents of this beautiful manatee exhibit. Their aquarium is built to house up to five full-grown manatees, and they have recently transitioned more from performing the role of rehabilitation and release to medical conditioning and research for manatees.

Other resources for manatees are:

Save the Manatee Club

Manatee Cam

West Indian Manatee

Watch these Manatees give butterfly kisses: