14 Endangered Fish
The oceans, seas and rivers, the source of life for our planet, are being attacked by several activities that put fish in danger of extinction. However, as they’re animals that people don’t seem to care about when compared to other species, these endangered fish are often forgotten about when it comes to conservation and dissemination.
The greatest sources of danger for marine and river life are overfishing, water pollution, climate change and aggressive urban development along the coasts. In this article, you can get to know several species affected by all this. Don’t miss it.
1. Angelfish (Squatina oculata)
This elasmobranch, which stalks small prey that pass near its mouth on the seabed, is in a state of critical threat. Commercial fishing is the reason for its disappearance, as the nets that sweep the seabed and accidental catches have reduced its population alarmingly in the last 50 years.
2. Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
Clownfish have a complex reproductive process that’s deeply linked to coral reefs. With the increase in water temperature – a consequence of global warming – the coral bleaches and these fish end up dying with it.
This animal became popular thanks to the movie Finding Nemo. In the years after its release, the clownfish population dropped dramatically, due to people wanting them as pets.
3. White shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
This is another animal threatened by a misinterpretation of films. The hunting of this shark has increased dramatically since the premiere of the film Jaws. In addition, their fins, teeth and jaws are highly valued in the markets of certain countries.
It’s believed that there are currently between 3,000 and 5,000 great white sharks. However, their nomadic nature and wide distribution throughout the oceans make it difficult to quantify their population sizes.
4. Coral toadfish (Sanopus splendidus)
Another fish in danger of extinction is the coral toadfish (also called the splendid toadfish), endemic to the island of Cozumel, Mexico. Inhabitant of coral reefs, it suffers the same problems as other species when corals in ecosystems die from bleaching. The pollution of its waters also affects it, especially the discharge of chemicals.
5. Striped grouper (Epinephelus striatus)
The striped grouper is a solitary fish that lives on the reefs of Mexico, the Bahamas, Florida, and the Caribbean Sea, where it feeds on crabs, smaller fish, and crustaceans. It’s in critical danger of extinction, since its daring character means it’s attracted to divers and fishermen.
6. Longcomb sawfish (Pristis pectinata)
This fish inhabits the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It measures between 5 and 6.5 meters in length and is well-known thanks to its elongated nose, similar to a chainsaw. It lives in fresh and salty waters, but today it has disappeared in most of the areas it inhabited. Its population has fallen 95% in 3 generations.
7. Giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas)
Giant catfish can only be found in the Mekong River and there are currently around 96 specimens. The hydroelectric dam built in Mekong in 1994 was the main cause of its decline, as the quality of the water declined dramatically. This, coupled with illegal hunting, has left the species on the brink of extinction.
8. Whale shark (Rhincodon typus)
This gigantic shark, about 20 feet long, feeds by filtering water; its teeth have no apparent function. It’s found in warm water oceans and its harmless nature puts it in danger from poachers.
The whale shark is a difficult species to track, but its low reproduction rates raise the suspicion that indiscriminate hunting may kill it in very little time.
9. Betta fish (Betta splendens)
This is another endangered fish, that, curiously, is also popular as an aquarium fish around the world. It’s actually native to the Mekong Basin of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It’s in a vulnerable state, since the destruction of its habitat and the capture of wild specimens as pets are causing its population to decrease.
10. Sunfish (Mola mola)
This is the holder of the title of the heaviest fish on the planet; this animal can exceed a ton in weight and measure up to 3.5 meters long. It lives in seas and depths of tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and even Indian oceans.
Some of the threats that put it in danger are accidental fishing and the commercialization of its meat in some markets in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Currently, it’s in a state of vulnerability.
11. Salinete (Aphanius baeticus)
The salinete is another endangered fish. It’s an endemic species of the streams of the Iberian Peninsula, where it remains in shoals near the shore. It’s in danger due to pollution caused by military and agricultural activity, in addition to the introduction of invasive species and climate change.
12. Banggai Cardinal (Pterapogon kauderni)
This is a species endemic to the Banggai Islands (Indonesia). It’s popular due to its curious appearance – its body is rhomboid, and it’s flat with very thin fins. Although its population density is unknown, we know that the species is threatened by the effect of human activity on the waters and the consequent pollution of its habitat.
13. Kaluga sturgeon (Huso dauricus)
The main cause of the sharp decline that this sturgeon has suffered since the 19th century is the large-scale fishing in its habitat to obtain caviar. Other factors, such as climate change, cause the water temperature to fluctuate, affecting the reproductive cycles of females.
Late sexual maturation works against them when it comes to recovering the population. Its conservation is important for its historical value: it is an endemic fish from the Amur River, which runs along the border between China and Russia.
14. Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus)
The total population of bluefin tuna specimens in the Atlantic Ocean has reduced by up to 90% in recent years. On the other hand, in the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea it’s already considered a locally extinct species. Its meat is a delicacy, which encourages overfishing; currently, it’s hunted at a rate three times greater than its potential recovery rate.
With the pollution of the waters, not only do endangered fish suffer, but humans also experience the consequences. The proof is in the data: the oceans have absorbed 93% of the extra heat generated by human activity, but only 3% of it is protected. When will the real action begin to save these animals?
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- IUCN. (2021). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. https://www.iucnredlist.org/
- ADW: Home. (2021). Animal Diversity Web. https://animaldiversity.org/
- Greenpeace. (2021). Océanos. Greenpeace España. https://es.greenpeace.org/es/trabajamos-en/oceanos/
- Salles, O.C., Almany, G.R., Berumen, M.L., Jones, G.P., Saenz-Agudelo, P., Srinivasan, M., Thorrold, S.R., Pujol, B. and Planes, S. (2020), Strong habitat and weak genetic effects shape the lifetime reproductive success in a wild clownfish population. Ecol Lett, 23: 265-273. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13428