Sawfish have a reason to breathe a little easier today: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has completed comprehensive status reviews under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and has determined that five foreign species of sawfish meet the definition of “endangered” under the Act. Of course, this “victory” is bittersweet: no one is celebrating the fact that sawfish species are endangered, but rather that they now will finally receive the protections they so desperately need to recover their numbers.
Started in 2006 by the United States Senate, Endangered Species Day is a celebration of our nation’s imperiled plants and wildlife and wild places, with an emphasis on success stories of species recovery.
Many of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s field and regional offices will be hosting events in their communities and providing unique programs to visitors on endangered species conservation in celebration of Endangered Species Day.
Toma, a three month-old orphan bear cub takes her first steps at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) Bear Rescue Center in the Tver Region of Russia.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables.
A conclusive explanation so far has escaped scientists studying the ailment, colony collapse disorder, since it first surfaced around 2005. But beekeepers and some researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor.
Two orphaned Royal Bengal tiger cubs were found and removed from a dry water tank in the outskirts of a village in Arunachal Pradesh, India. International Fund for Animal Welfare - Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) veterinarians examined and treated the rescued cubs before moving them to a temporary rehabilitation facility. After rehabilitation, IFAW-WTI aims to release the rescued cubs back to the wild.
Sharks risk being driven to extinction due to overfishing, with almost 100 million killed each year, scientists have warned.
Many species of shark need better protection to prevent their extinction within coming decades, researchers warned in advance of a global conference on the trade in threatened species.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) will consider greater protection of vulnerable sharks, including porbeagles, oceanic whitetip and three types of hammerhead to preserve their populations.
Geneva video update on Canada's WTO challenge to the EU seal import ban by IFAW's EU Regional Director, Sonja Van Tichelen.
First Species Since Polar Bear Listed Primarily Because of Climate Change
The Center for Biological Diversity, the federal government today finalized Endangered Species Act protection for two ice-dependent Arctic seals threatened by melting sea ice and snowpack due to climate change. Ringed seals and bearded seals, found in the waters off Alaska, are the first species since polar bears to be protected primarily because of climate change threats.
Ringed seals give birth and nurse their pups in snow caves built on sea ice. Global warming is reducing the amount of snowpack on the ice, causing snow caves to collapse and leaving pups vulnerable to death from freezing temperatures and predators. Bearded seals, named for their distinctively thick whiskers, give birth and nurse their pups on pack ice over shallow waters where their bottom-dwelling food is abundant. The rapid loss of pack ice jeopardizes their ability to raise their young and find food. This summer Arctic sea-ice extent hit a troubling new record low, falling to half its average size. At that pace summer sea ice across the Arctic is likely to disappear entirely in the next 10 to 20 years, while the seals’ winter sea-ice habitat in the Bering Sea off Alaska is projected to decline at least 40 percent by 2050. Meanwhile oil giant Shell has launched an aggressive offshore drilling program in the seals’ home, which heightens the threat of oil spills. Shell became the first company to begin drilling for oil in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea in more than 20 years.
“Arctic animals face a clear danger of extinction from climate change,” said Shaye Wolf, the Center’s climate science director. “The Endangered Species Act offers strong protections for these seals, but we can’t save the Arctic ecosystem without confronting the broader climate crisis. The Obama administration has to take decisive action, right now, against greenhouse gas pollution to preserve a world filled with ice seals, walruses and polar bears.”
Today’s decision provides Endangered Species Act protections to all populations of the ringed seal and the Pacific subspecies of the bearded seal, which inhabits Alaska and parts of Russia and Canada. The Act will provide a safety net for these seals that includes habitat protections, recovery planning and, most importantly, a prohibition on federal actions that could jeopardize the seals. Listing of the seals will not affect subsistence harvest by Alaska natives, which is exempted from the law’s provisions.
The federal government has acknowledged that other Arctic species are imperiled by global warming, including polar bears, listed as threatened in 2008, and Pacific walruses, made candidates for listing under the Act in 2011.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Seamounts are underwater mountain ranges that are home to an unbelievable array of sea creatures fed by the nutrient-rich water from the deep upwells. The destructive practice of bottom trawling, where large, heavy nets weighing as much as several tons each effectively clear-cut everything living on the seafloor, causes more direct and avoidable damage to the ocean floor and its creatures than any other human activity in the world. Although some of Chile’s seamounts have already been damaged or destroyed by the country’s fishing fleet, the December 20 decision closes any further trawling to Chile’s 118 seamounts until scientists have assessed these and other underwater ecosystems off the coast of Chile.