The ocean’s mammals are at a crucial crossroads – with some at risk of extinction and others showing signs of recovery, researchers say.
In a detailed review of the status of the world’s 126 marine mammal species – which include whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, manatees, dugongs, sea otters and polar bears – scientists found that accidental capture by fisheries (bycatch), climate change and pollution are among the key drivers of decline.
A quarter of these species are now classified as being at risk of extinction (vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered on the IUCN Red List), with the near-extinct vaquita porpoise and the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale among those in greatest danger.
Conservation efforts have enabled recoveries among other species, including the northern elephant seal, humpback whale and Guadalupe fur seal. MORE