Add Nine More

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It was announced at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston that another nine sharks will be added to the IUCN red list. Add this to the 126 elasmobranchs already listed as critical, endangered, or vulnerable.

The new additions include the scalloped hammerhead (vulnerable), short-fin mako shark (vulnerable), smooth hammerhead (vulnerable), big-eye thresher (vulnerable), common thresher (vulnerable), silky (near-threatened), tiger (vulnerable or endangered status), bull (vulnerable or endangered status), and dusky shark (vulnerable or endangered status). To refresh your memory the categories are below the fold. For the scalloped hammerhead, the greatest threat is over-fishing to feed a burgeoning market for shark fins in China. Off the US Atlantic coast the numbers fell by 98% from 1970-2005. Indeed, great white, tiger, smooth and scalloped hammerheads have essentially been eliminated from the region.

The reduction in top predators from marine ecosystems can only drastically alter the entire food webs across the oceans. Related posts here, here, and here.

  1. EXTINCT (EX)
    A taxon is Extinct when there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. A taxon is presumed Extinct when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a time frame appropriate to the taxon’s life cycle and life form.
  2. EXTINCT IN THE WILD (EW)
    A taxon is Extinct in the Wild when it is known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalized population (or populations) well outside the past range. A taxon is presumed Extinct in the Wild when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a time frame appropriate to the taxon’s life cycle and life form.
  3. CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR)
    A taxon is Critically Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Critically Endangered (see Section V), and it is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
  4. ENDANGERED (EN)
    A taxon is Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Endangered (see Section V), and it is therefore considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
  5. VULNERABLE (VU)
    A taxon is Vulnerable when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Vulnerable (see Section V), and it is therefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
  6. NEAR THREATENED (NT)
    A taxon is Near Threatened when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.
Dr. M (1628 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





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3 comments on “Add Nine More
  1. Actually, you see tiger sharks offshore all the time, even within the U.S. EEZ, although I’ll certainly support a ban on trade in tiger shark products. They’re beautiful animals on top of everything else.

    Cold splash of reality: as with all Highly Migratory Species (HMS) fisheries targets, this sort of management will only work with both enforcement and participation by all potential participants. The fisheries that interact with these sharks are primarily vessels in the international pelagic longline fleets, only some of which even give a damn about anything other than their targets. Whether for billfish or sharks or turtles, eventually we’re going to have to figure out a way to put fisheries observers on those high-seas distant-water fishing vessels. THAT’s no small challenge!

  2. Even if fisheries observers were on ships out in the middle of nowhere, I almost feel that an official might be outnumbered, intimidated or strong-armed into producing favorable reports.

    I don’t know anything about observing though and the interactions between observers and fishermen.

  3. The Chinese need to discover something called beef and chicken. Those are both equally tasty when prepared right. Also much cheaper than shark fins, tiger parts, and other endangered critter parts.

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