Monthly Archives: May 2013

All 19 ocean extinctions, here only

No scientific paper, book or website has an updated list of historical extinctions in the ocean, so here it is. If you wish to read my paper about this topic or provide updates for this list, contact me or post a comment here.

Enjoy the link for 17 species to a listing on the IUCN Red List, the international record of modern extinctions and threats. Two listings refer to scientific articles.

Species

First IUCN note; other

Year likely extinct

Region

4 Mammals 3 in U.S.
Steller’s Sea Cow Hydrodamalis gigas 1986 1768 Bering Sea, U.S.
Sea mink Neovison macrodon 2002 1860 Coastal NE America
Caribbean Monk Seal Monachus tropicalis 1982 1952 Caribbean Sea
Japanese Sea Lion Zalophus japonicus 1986 1950s NW Pacific
2 Fish 0 in U.S.
New Zealand grayling Prototroctes oxyrhynchus 1986 1930s New Zealand
Green Wrasse Anampses viridis 2010 ? Mauritius
7 Birds 1 in U.S.
Great Auk Pinguinus impennis 1988 1852 N Atlantic
Labrador Duck Camptorhynchus labradorius 1988 1875 Coastal NE America
Large St Helena Petrel Pterodroma rupinarum 1988 1500s St Helena Island
Small St Helena Petrel Bulweria bifax 1988 1500s St Helena Island
Pallas’s Cormorant Phalacrocorax perspicillatus 1998 1950s Russia’s Komandorski Islands
Auckland Islands Merganser Mergus australis 1988 1910 New Zealand
Canary Islands Oystercatcher Haematopus meadewaldoi 1994 1940s E. Canary Islands
4 Invertebrates 2 in U.S.
Eelgrass limpet Lottia alveus 1994 ? U.S.
Rocky shore limpet Collisella edmitchelli 1996 1860s U.S.
Periwinkle Littoraria flammea 1996 1840 China
Horn Snail Cerithidea fuscata Regnier 2009 1935 U.S.
2 Plants     0 in U.S.
Bennett’s seaweed Vanvoorstia bennettiana 2003 1890s Sydney, Australia
Turkish towel algae Gigartina australis Monte-Luna 2007 ? Sydney, Australia

Butterflies going extinct, others?

Here’s a game to play while you’re bored at work: try to figure out which species will go extinct next. You will find the best data on the Red List website of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Extinct after 1997: Aldabra Banded Snail

Extinct after 1997: Aldabra Banded Snail

A great article in the Miami Herald about Florida’s endangered butterflies shows that one of them will likely be next within the U.S. As many as five species could already be extinct.

Check out their pictures and a map here.

This finding would be shocking, as only four butterflies have gone extinct in U.S. history, and they were all in California. Worldwide, only about 100 species of birds, mammals and amphibians have been declared extinct in the past 100 years.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this number reflects reality: it only shows the number discovered, while the actual number lost is estimated to be much higher. Plus, as most species on earth are insects, we can expect them to represent most extinctions.

The current rate of extinction is so much higher than the background or natural rate of extinction that scientists have declared a new geological age: the Anthropocene, meaning the age of humans.

We actually have more to lose than ever before. A cool fact is that Earth reached “peak species” about 30,000 years ago, meaning that more species were alive at that time that at any other time in history. Neat, right? But history also shows that every time humans migrated to a new place, extinctions followed.

For butterflies, the biggest threat today is that humans have built things on top of the places they used to live. Habitat destruction takes away their homes, and eventually their lives.

Be careful how you drive, too. That butterfly on your windshield could be the last one, ever.

Learn more about Florida’s rare butterflies from the Miami Blue Chapter.