Human activity is wreaking havoc on the state of the oceans around the world — especially on marine life, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s updated Red List of Threatened Species.
Environmentally harmful activities such as illegal and unsustainable fishing, pollution, climate change and disease are devastating both plant and animal marine species, from mammals to corals, according to the IUCN.
More than 1,550 marine animals and plants are currently at risk of extinction, with climate chance impacting at least 41% of threatened marine species.
One of the new marine species at risk of extinction are populations of dugongs, large herbivorous marine mammals found in East Africa and New Caledonia, according to the list. There are now fewer than 250 mature individuals in East Africa and under 900 in New Caledonia, where they are considered critically endangered and endangered, respectively.
The primary threats the dugongs face are unintentional capture in fishing gear in East Africa and poaching in New Caledonia, and boat injuries in both locations. In addition, oil and gas exploration and production, bottom trawling, chemical pollution and unauthorized coastal development are damaging and destroying the seagrasses that dugongs depend on for food, especially in East Africa, the conservationists said.