SPECIES: Maui dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui)
CURRENT RANGE: West Coast of North Island, New Zealand
CURRENT THREATS: Fisheries, oil exploration, inbreeding, disease.
CONSERVATION STATUS: Critically Endangered
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Occasionally between Manukau Harbour and Port Waikato, North Island, New Zealand.
(The following is a guest post from Justin Carmack of True Nomads, which focuses on his diving adventures around the world. You can follow Justin on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you’re a blogger interested in guest posting, please email us [email protected])
Rare Sharks are beautiful and amazing to see in their own habitat. But, most importantly, they are apex predators, making them a vital link in the marine ecosystem’s food chain.
It’s the shark’s job to regulate populations of fish by preying on the weak, slow, and old among the schools. If these rare sharks were to disappear, it would begin a devastating domino effect. The whole marine eco chain would collapse one layer at a time, eventually killing off humans.
Without sharks to feed on them, fish populations would explode. If there are too many fish, the species they feed on would slowly disappear, eventually killing them off completely. This would eliminate another food source and kill off the rest of the fish in the food chain, all the way down to microorganisms, plankton and algae.
Did you know that plankton and algae are the number one producer of oxygen in the world? More than even the Amazon Rainforest! It’s also the biggest natural carbon-scrubber/eliminator/filter on the planet.
Starting to get the picture? Over time, if we were to let human greed and apathy kill off rare sharks, the chain reaction could be catastrophic, leading to more greenhouse gases, global warming, and possibly the end of mankind. The first step to stop this catastrophe is education, so here is a look at five rare shark species worth saving:
They don’t look like much. To my unadjusted eye, they merely look like tire tracks leading to holes in soft sand. But to those who know, like my husband, they mean only one thing – we are on an active turtle nesting beach. We’ve been waiting for this moment for almost a week.
We are in Oman, a land of forts and frankincense, Bedouins and wadis, desert dunes and rugged coastline. But for us, Oman is first and foremost a country whose white sand beaches serve as the yearly nesting sites for tens of thousands of sea turtles. Ever since Bruno described his cherished memory of watching turtles lay their eggs in the sand here, it’s been the experience I’ve longed for most in Oman.
And so we headed for Ras al Jinz, a turtle nesting site of internationally-recognized importance. Every year, over 20,000 female green turtles – an endangered species – plod up the beach here to dig deep trenches with their rear flippers into the soft sand and deposit their eggs.
And every night, one hundred tourists watch the turtles in this most-intimate of act.
Walking through the undulating dunes, I saw a big furry creature swaddled in the couch grass. The shaggy beast looked a lot like a bear, but we were in the wrong domain for such a creature.
I was out leading a tour group in my capacity as a wildlife guide. The location was South Island, New Zealand and the animal that lay before us was the New Zealand Sea Lion, which is genetically related to bears.
A thick pelt of fur envelopes their body and the male acquires an impressive mane around his neck as he matures. Like his terrestrial cousin, the New Zealand Sea Lion is a top predator: His quarry tends to be fish, squid, octopus, crabs and the occasional penguin.
On Sea Lions, the razor-sharp claws of a bear have been sheathed inside a membranous flipper. This flipper propels them through their watery lair, as well as allowing them to capture prey. The Sea Lion also has a thick layer of blubber, which insulates it from the frigid water as it descends to deeper realms.
Much of the population lives on the subantarctic Campbell and Auckland Islands, with a tiny population living on the mainland. The species’ conservation status is listed as ‘’nationally critical’’– the highest threat status given in New Zealand. In short, the New Zealand Sea Lion is one of the most threatened Sea Lions in the world, and quite possibly the rarest.
SPECIES: Southern Resident Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)
CURRENT RANGE: Pacific North East, around Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Southern Georgia Strait
CURRENT THREATS: Decreased prey availability, boat interactions, environmental contamination
CONSERVATION STATUS: Endangered
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Washington and British Columbia