Around the world, many species both on land and in the sea are facing the most important fight of their lives –– the one that could potentially be the final fight to exist on this planet. Today is Endangered Species Day and we want to recognize the peril of these iconic animals in hopes of bringing attention to their plight. A recent study published by the UN stated that as many as 1 million species are threatened with extinction at the hands of man. We hold the fate of these creatures in the palm of our hands and it is our responsibility as the dominant species of Earth to recognize with humility this power and do whatever we can to stop it from happening.
The warnings below are ripped from the headlines of the Executive Summary of that UN report... very alarming statements wouldn't you say?
The Blue Whale
As the largest animal to ever exist on this planet, the blue whale grows up to 100 feet (30 m) and weighs almost 190 tons (173,000 kg), one might think that their size would make them invincible, and for millions of years that was the case. However, in the late 1860s, steam engines placed on hunting ships and explosive harpoons changed the game for whalers and blue whales were hunted to near extinction by the 1960s –– as few as one to two thousand animals remained. In 1966, the International Whaling Commission banned the hunting of these leviathans of the deep and their numbers have rebounded a bit. But, with only as many as eight or nine thousand individuals left, by no means are they safe from extinction.
Our non-profit partner, Whale and Dolphin Conservation is advocating for and helping to protect species like the blue whale all over the world. When you purchase a 4ocean Whale Bracelet, you are not only pulling a pound of trash from the ocean, you are also helping this amazing organization advocate for the largest of all creatures in the ocean.
The Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Getting their name from the distinct shape of their hawk-like beak, this relatively small sea turtle can grow to about 150 lbs (68 kg) and 3 ft (91 cm) in length. The most tropical of all sea turtle species, they are normally found around coral reefs, underwater rocky areas, lagoons, and estuaries. Their diet consists mostly of sponges, anemones, squid, and shrimp. Hawksbills have long been admired for their incredibly ornate shell which unfortunately has led to their current endangered status. In some countries, they are still hunted for their shells to make jewelry, hair ornaments, and other types of decorative items. Make sure that when you are visiting countries where hawksbills live that you do not purchase any of these items.
They are also susceptible to entanglement in nets, longline fishing gear and are known to ingest things like plastic bags. It is now estimated that there are only between 20,000 to 23,000 nesting females left in the world. By removing trash and debris from their environment, 4ocean is helping to protect their habits from these deadly items. The 4ocean Sea Turtle Bracelet funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean and also helps to support the amazing work that the Florida Atlantic University® Marine Research Lab is doing with all types of sea turtles. Pick one up today.
The Scalloped Hammerhead
There are nine known species of hammerheads around the world and they are best known for the unique shape of their head. The Scalloped Hammerhead gets its name from the way the front of its already uniquely shaped head seems to resemble the rounded outer edges of a scallop shell. They can grow to 14 ft (4.2 m) in length and weight upwards of 330 lbs (150 kg). Since they don't reach sexual maturity until their mid-teens and only reproduce once a year, they are at great risk because many of the younger sharks are killed for their fins and meat, never having a chance to grow old enough to reproduce. Coupled with the fact that their pups have a very high mortality rate, you now have a recipe for extinction.
Organizations like our non-profit partner Project AWARE® are doing some really important work on the global stage to protect sharks. Their Dive Against Debris campaign is one that really strikes a chord with us here at 4ocean because they feel, as we do, that a clean ocean is a healthy ocean not only for sharks but for all marine animals. As part of our commitment to them, we introduced the 4ocean Shark Bracelet to bring attention to the plight of sharks around the world. This bracelet funds the removal of trash from their environment and helps support the great work being done at Project AWARE.
The Hawaiian Monk Seal
The Hawaiian monk seal is the poster child for what can happen when the ocean becomes littered with our trash. With only between 1,200 and 1,400 individuals animals left in the wild, they are the most endangered pinniped species in the world. The main cause of death for the Hawaiian monk seals is entanglement in the discarded nets of the fishing industry. Because of the way ocean currents swirl around and interact with the Hawaiian Islands, these nets tend to congregate right were the monk seals feed and haul out onto the beaches to bask. This puts them in extreme danger every time they head out to sea to frolic or feed.
Luckily, it looks like the population has stabilized thanks in part to organizations like our non-profit partner, The Marine Mammal Center. Their monk seal hospital Ke Kai Ola, located in Kona on the big island of Hawai'i, has rescued many Hawaiian monk seals since it opened in 2014. As part of our partnership, 4ocean adopted Kilo the Hawaiian monk seal and she is now back out in the wild living happily in her natural environment. Things like this are made possible when you purchase a 4ocean Hawaiian Monk Seal Bracelet. Not only do we pull a pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines, but we are able to support great organizations like the one at Ke Kai Ola who are on the front lines trying to save these beautiful creatures from extinction.
The Tristan Albatross
Native to the Southern Hemisphere, mostly in the Atlantic and Indian oceans, the Tristan Albatross has been in a rapid state of decline over the last three generations (70 years) with numbers now estimated to only be between 3,400 to 4,800 individuals, making their IUCN Red List status, "critically endangered."
A couple of interesting facts most people don't know about these wanderers of the open ocean are that they can fly for months at a time without ever touching down on dry land and they mate for life with their partner of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, the adults have a high rate of mortality due to longline fisheries and entanglement in their gear. Also, the chicks have a low survival rate because introduced, invasive species like mice and rats living in the places where these albatross nest are decimating the populations.
We decided to partner with the non-profit organization BirdLife International to help support critical research like that being done by their Albatross Task Force. These dedicated individuals are helping to gather data and develop solutions for the most pressing issues facing albatross populations around the world. They have already been successful on a number of fronts with regards to policy changes in the fishing industry to help eliminate the high rate of albatross by-catch in their gear. When you buy a 4ocean Seabird Bracelet, you are pulling a pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines and helping drive forward the work of BirdLife International to save these wonders of the avian world.
So, we just took a quick look at five species that 4ocean is helping to save with our daily ocean cleanup operations and our partnerships with non-profit organizations around the world. Now imagine 1 million species and how long that blog post would be!
All kidding aside, we are in a crisis state of affairs with the decline in biodiversity on this planet, and it is time we all act as one. These animals don't know boundaries or countries only the open ocean and we must change the way we think about their habitats if these animals are going to survive for the next generations. We are in fact not just saving the animals, we are saving ourselves. Get involved, speak up, act locally but think globally.
Have you ever had an encounter with an endangered species? If so, let us know in the comment section below. Make sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date on all things 4ocean! Also, head on over to our Discover 4ocean Facebook Group to get in on the conversation around ocean plastic pollution and other important ocean conservation topics.