Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: Macaya breast-spot frog

Nominated by: Durrell Wildlife Trust

Why do you love it?

Good things come in small packages and the diminutive Macaya breast-spot frog, one of the smallest frogs in the world, is definitely one. These beautiful red frogs inhabit the high altitude (1,700 – 2,340 masl) montane pine and cloud forests of Pic Macaya and Pic Formond in the Massif de la Hotte, Haiti. The males call can be heard throughout the day but are most prominent at night when it provides a background chorus of tinkling glass to the atmospheric forest. Importantly, the Macaya breast-spot frog is just one of 17 Critically Endangered and Endangered species endemic to the Massif de la Hotte making it arguably the most important site for amphibian conservation in the world.

Top facts

  • – Adults measure less than 15mm from snout to vent
  • – Females only lay around 3 eggs each which hatch directly into miniature versions of the miniature adults
  • – It was only rediscovered in 2010 having not been seen in nearly 20 years

What are the threats to the Macaya breast-spot frog?

It has a highly restricted range which is being threatened by habitat loss primarily for charcoal production and agriculture.

What are you doing to save it?

Yes, Durrell, along with Philadelphia Zoo is supporting local partner Société Audubon Haiti to undertake a series of amphibian surveys across the Macaya National Park as part of the National Parks Management Plan. These aim to better understand the diverse and highly threatened amphibian fauna found there and assess how habitat loss is impacting the various species. This information can then be used to improve the management of the National Park to both protect its endemic fauna and provide local people with the resources they require.

For more information on the work Durrell is doing to Save Amphibians From Extinction visit their website.

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Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: pelagic thresher

Nominated by: Sharks4Kids

Why do you love it?

The pelagic thresher has a tail that can be as long as the body itself. It uses this tail to stun prey, which has earned them the nickname “ninja shark.” This amazing adaptation makes this animal truly unique.

What are the threats to pelagic thresher?

This shark is listed as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and the population is decreasing. They are targeted by commercial fisheries for their fins, meat, liver oil and skin. They are also caught as bycatch on tuna longlines. It is estimated that thresher shark fins make up 2-3% of the fins auctioned off in Hong Kong markets.

What are you doing to save it? Our team does not work directly with these sharks, but we are working to spread education and awareness about the species to students around the world. We are promoting the addition of all 3 species of thresher shark to the CITES Appendix II listing. We have also introduced a new

Our team does not work directly with these sharks, but we are working to spread education and awareness about the species to students around the world. We are promoting the addition of all 3 species of thresher shark to the CITES Appendix II listing. We have also introduced a new colouring fact sheeting to get students excited about this species.

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Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: silky shark

Nominated by: Project AWARE

Why do you love it?

It may not be as well-known as its hammerhead, great white or oceanic whitetip cousins but the silky shark is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent! This streamlined and sleek ocean predator gets its name from its exceptionally smooth skin and metallic tone.

Project AWARE® has always had a lot of love for this shark but in 2016 we fell head over heels. The 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP17) was firmly on our agenda. Project AWARE rallied support from the global dive community and engaged with relevant governments to urge member signatories to protect the silky shark and other commercially valuable shark and ray species from the devastating effects of unregulated international trade. Together with our shark conservation partners, including Shark Advocates International and the Shark Trust, we delivered strong science-based arguments in support of international trade controls for the silky shark. And we celebrated, as proposals for the silky shark and other shark and ray species to be listed on CITES Appendix II were successfully adopted.

What are the threats to the silky shark?

This highly migratory, low productivity shark is at risk from substantial incidental take in high seas fisheries. Due to its beautifully marked skin, the silky shark is a popular target for the shark leather trade. Like many other sharks, it is also fished for its fins, meat and liver oil.

Silky sharks are among the shark species most commonly captured in pelagic longline and purse seine gear set primarily for tunas; the associated mortality is the primary threat to silky shark populations. They are vulnerable to overfishing due to slow growth, late maturity, lengthy gestation, and few young.

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and ranked among the top three most important sharks in the global fin trade, the silky shark truly deserves all our love and attention.

What are you doing to save it?

In our work to end overexploitation of sharks and rays, Project AWARE advocates for national, regional, and global conservation actions that limit catch based on science and the precautionary approach, and we advocate for the end of at-sea removal of fins. We inform, inspire and empower shark advocates to become shark defenders and use our powerful and collective voice to influence change for the most vulnerable shark and ray species.

In 2017, we encourage our community to be an agent of positive change for the ocean. We believe we can create a global culture that nurtures and sustains a thriving, vibrant ocean.

Find out about the many ways that Project AWARE help sharks and other marine creatures, and how you can help on their website.

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Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: common guitarfish

Nominated by: Shark Advocates

Why should you love it?

Guitarfish are rays characterized by magnificent, triangular, flattened heads. They have “wings” like rays, but also shark-like bodies, complete with tall, pointy dorsal fins, which help to demonstrate how closely sharks and rays are related. Guitarfish spend their time cruising along the seabed, or partially buried in the sand. They are beautiful from above and, depending on your imagination, can appear rather expressive from below. Guitarfish give birth to just a few fully-formed pups, which are – arguably — the cutest things ever. Somehow, these charismatic fish are not getting anywhere near the love they deserve, and are now among the most threatened of all the world’s shark and ray families. The “Common” Guitarfish of West Africa and the Mediterranean is one of the most imperilled of the many guitarfish species.

What are the threats to the common guitarfish?

The main threat to guitarfish around the world is overfishing, through both targeted and incidental catches that are too often completely unregulated. They are taken for their meat and for their fins, which are highly prized for shark fin soup. Their bottom-dwelling nature makes guitarfish vulnerable to a variety of fishing gears, including bottom-tending gillnets and trawls. Their nearshore habitats are at risk from fishing impacts as well as development and pollution. Once found all around the Mediterranean and along the west coast of Spain and Africa, the Common Guitarfish is common no more; the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies this species as Endangered and warns it may already be extinct in some parts of its range.

What is Shark Advocates International doing to save it?

We’re supporting IUCN Shark Specialist Group efforts to raise the global conservation profile of all guitarfishes, and – more specifically —  working with Shark Trust, Project AWARE, and other partners to ensure fulfilment of commitments to protect the Common Guitarfish (and 23 other elasmobranchs) under Mediterranean fisheries and wildlife treaties, such as the Barcelona Convention. We also promote capacity building for West African shark and ray conservation, highlight opportunities to help guitarfish through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and support implementation of the recent Common Guitarfish listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Thank you for your help!

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Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: Greenland shark

Nominated by: SharkFest

Why do you love it?

The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) is the oldest living vertebrate animal – previously thought to be the bowhead whale – and one of the Arctic’s most mysterious species!

Weighing 900kg on average and reaching up to 7m long, the Greenland shark is one of only 2 sharks found in the Arctic, and one of the largest sharks on the planet. Despite reaching a similar size as the Great White shark, Greenland sharks are so slow that they are often called ‘sleeper sharks’ and they are blinded by parasites that feed on their eyes.

Scientists recently found a 400-year-old female Greenland shark, who would have reached sexual maturity at about 150 years old. She was born during the reign of James I, reached adulthood around the time that the American revolution began, and has lived through 2 world wars.

Greenland sharks prey upon almost everything – eels, whales, sea urchins, seals, crabs, fish, other sharks and even polar bear and caribou! The Greenland shark’s position as one of the top predators of the Arctic food chain makes it a very important species to research and conserve.

What are the threats to the Greenland Shark?

Unfortunately, Greenland sharks are easy to catch because of their size and slow speed. Fishermen by Nunavut’s turbot fisheries and elsewhere often accidently catch Greenland sharks (as bycatch), and because they’re not edible they’re discarded.

The varied diet of the Greenland shark could also put them at risk of eating human-created wastes and pollutants that are not part of the shark’s natural diet. Human development, travel and climate change also impact the fragile environment that the Greenland sharks rely on.

Luckily Greenland shark populations are currently believed to be healthy!

What are you doing to save it?

SharkFest UK is encouraging marine conservation organisations to collaborate for the good of sharks and rays worldwide. SharkFest UK also inspires children and students to take up a career in shark research, education and/ or conservation.

WWF is supporting and participating in research that tracks Greenland sharks as part of the Ocean Tracking Network for monitoring sustainable ocean management around the world.

Today very little is known about the Greenland shark – critical hunting habitats, mating and birth, how many young they have, etc. This information is crucial for understanding the impacts of human-activities on Greenland sharks, and learning how we can best protect this mysterious, ancient shark.

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