In the last 500 years, the oceans have suffered far fewer extinctions than on land—at least that we know of. According to a recent study in Science, 15 animals are known to have vanished forever from the oceans while terrestrial ecosystems have seen 514 extinctions.
The researchers, however, warn that the number of marine extinctions could rise rapidly as the oceans are industrialized for food, fossil fuels, minerals, energy, and transportation. The industrial revolution, which kickstarted on land in the 19th Century, may now be entering the marine environment. For more on this research: Empty seas? Scientists warn of an industrialized ocean
Here’s a pictorial look at the 15 known marine species lost in since 1500 AD:
- Douglas J. McCauley, Malin L. Pinsky, Stephen R. Palumbi, James A. Estes, Francis H. Joyce, Robert R. Warner. (2015) Marine defaunation: Animal loss in the global ocean. Science. Vol 347. Issue 6219.