Many species in our oceans are endangered or are facing extinction, but as an ambassador for the underwater world, you can use your love for diving, and passion for travel to promote their protection. By visiting countries with marine protected areas, you are voting with your “dollars” to show your support of these efforts.
Should you have the chance to dive with an endangered or vulnerable animal – share your experience on social media. Friends and family members may not be aware of the adorable Hawaiian Monk Seal or the ethereal beauty of a giant manta. Here are a few endangered species you might have an encounter with while diving:
- Hawaiian Monk Seal – These seals call the remote waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands home. With puppy-dog eyes and adorable faces, you will be lucky to see one. The coastal habitats these animals once frequented are now inhabited by humans, so monk seals have become accidental victims of fisheries. Combined with a natural decline due to predators, this animal is now endangered.
- Humphead Wrasse – This unique large fish dwells in the reefs of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Some of these fascinating fish change sexes from female to male around nine years of age. Many of these fish have been caught by un-managed fisheries that have caused marked population declines in areas where the species is both protected and unprotected.
- Sawfish – These rays have a long snout with external teeth, like a saw. The sawfish was once found in rivers of Florida, but due to their tendency to get caught in fishing nets, they are now primarily seen in Australian rivers.
- Dugong – This large sea creature is actually related to the elephant. Found in the Indo-Pacific near the Philippines, the Dugong is now legally protected. Because coastal hunters desire its meat, oil, skin, bones and teeth, it is now endangered.
- Hawksbill Turtle – These medium-sized turtles are found in the waters of the Caribbean, Oceania and the Indian Ocean. The Hawksbill turtle shell has been used to make jewelry and other objects, which has endangered the population.
- Coral – Coral is indeed an animal, and one that the rest of the sea-dwelling creatures depend on. As the reefs decline, so do populations of countless other marine species.
- Australian Sea Lion – These tightly knit groups can be devastated by the death of one of their colony members. These adorable sea lions have been hunted for their fur in the past and now face the danger of getting caught in fishing nets.
We hope you’ll take action to help protect these endangered creatures by spreading the word about these animals in danger and supporting the environmental conservation efforts of Project AWARE.