Feb 15

The race to become crowned as the World’s Most Unloved Species was hotly contested, once again, this year with 19 nominated species in the running.  After 12 days of fierce competition, impassioned pitches and over 4,500 votes, the top 10 was announced on Valentine’s Day.

But slithering into first place… it’s the Galapagos racer!

Often demonised, the Galapagos racer shot to fame during the BBC’s 2016 series Planet Earth II.  They are one of a few endemic snakes found in the Galapagos and can grow to a maximum of 125 centimetres.  However, little is known about the Galapagos racer and there is even confusion over the number of species or subspecies of racer snakes found in the Galapagos.  The Galapagos racer is already locally extinct on Floreana Island and are threatened following the introduction of cats and pigs onto neighbouring islands which forage for their eggs.

All the nominated species are worthy winners, and were chosen as they are often overshadowed and overlooked by the more cute, handsome and (supposedly) interesting members of the natural world.  But which species pulled at the public’s heartstrings the most and made it into the top 10?  Here’s a quick rundown:

Wombling into second place, it’s the bare-nosed wombat.  Also known as the ‘common wombat’ this furry marsupial may no longer be as ‘common’ as its namesake suggests, as the population battles an increasing number of fatal road strikes and the deadly skin condition mange.

Flying into third, and in the highest place a bird has had in this contest, it’s the lappet-faced vulture.  Definitely not noted for their cuddly nature, these birds have been known to take on jackals to defend a carcass!

In fourth place we dive underneath the waves with the first shark to enter the top 10!  The shortfin mako is a speed machine, capable of reaching 35 kilometres an hour and even having the power to launch itself clear out of the water.

At number five we have the Asian elephant.  Despite having had a close relationship with man over the centuries these giants are facing a number of threats including poaching and habitat loss, and are often overlooked by their larger African relatives.

Hopping into the top 10 at number six is the common toad.  Firmly rooted in English folklore and culture this gardener’s friend is another species with an unfortunate name as populations have taken a dramatic downturn declining by 68% over the last 30 years.

The ‘lucky number seven’ spot is taken by the red squirrel.  However this iconic species is not so lucky, facing habitat fragmentations, disease and competition with the grey squirrel, introduced into the UK in the 1870s.

Coming up in eighth place is the aye-aye.  Not known for its dashing good looks, this primate has been considered an omen of bad luck resulting in persecution by the Malagasy people!

Looking fine at nine is the Copan brook frog.  The second amphibian in the top 10, this tiny frog could be easily hidden if it wasn’t for its bright, lime green colouration.

And last but by no means least, it’s the blue shark.  This sleek apex predator is instantly recognisable as it moves gracefully through the water however it is one of the most heavily fished sharks in the world, with an estimated 15-20 million caught every year.

To find out more about these species and the work being done to research and conserve them, visit the results page here.

Sep 29

Thirteen ocean creatures have surfaced all around Bristol’s BS5 postcode, snapped by some of the world’s very best wildlife photographers. To prove how turtle-y awesome they all are, we’ve created blogs on all of the featured species sharing ten epic facts about them! Sail your way around the exhibition by downloading your very own map and guide.

1) Sharks have been around for about 400 million years, long before dinosaurs even existed. They have survived five mass extinction events! Just keep swimming just keep swimming…

2) There are 355 confirmed species of shark, ranging in length from 15cm to 15m. Talk about little and large!

3) Hammerhead sharks are famous for their strange heads, which are actually designed to make them better hunters. The electrical sensors the sharks use to pinpoint their prey are spread out further, giving them much better prey detection skills.


4) Mako sharks are the fastest shark species in the ocean – these toothy torpedos can swim at speeds of up to 95km/h!

5) Lantern sharks can glow to disguise themselves in the deep ocean, and will emitting the same amount of light that shines from the ocean’s surface above them from their underside so that they don’t create a shadow. Basically, they have stealth mode – awesome!

6) Thresher sharks can use their super long tail fins to stun prey, similar to cracking them with a whip. The tail-whip also creates bubbles which can stun prey.


7) The babies of some shark species, such as the sand tiger shark, develop teeth in the womb and eat their unborn siblings. Sibling rivalry or what?!

8) A shark may go through over 20,000 teeth throughout its lifetime. The great white shark has up to 7 rows of teeth which are continually replaced with new ones.. yikes. Say cheese!


9) Greenland sharks are Earth’s longest-living vertebrates. Researchers recently discovered a 400-year old female by using radiocarbon dating.

10) A lot of people rightly avoid eating sharks, so fish markets and chefs change the name of shark meat to rock salmon, rock eel, huss or flake. Always make sure you know what you’re eating!

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.

VOTE NOW!

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.

VOTE NOW!

VOTE FOR ME!

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.

VOTE NOW!

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