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Friday, September 9, 2011

Preserve a few key areas to save marine mammals

The bad news:  at least a quarter of the marine mammals left on Earth are facing extinction.  The good news:  preserving just 4% of the oceans and other bodies of water could protect them.  Sandra Pompa and Gerardo Ceballos from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México amd Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University have identified 20 key sites for marine mammal conservation.

There are 129 species of marine mammal, including not only whales and seal, but also polar bears and otters.  Actually, perhaps they should be called ‘water’ mammals, because six of the species live in freshwater.  In any case, the authors created range maps for each species and determine which areas of the globe were most critical to its survival.  Just nine sites making up a total of 2.5% of the surveyed regions were home to 108 of the species.  And where are these precious sites? Off the coasts of Baja California in Mexico, eastern Canada, Peru, Argentina, northwestern Africa, South Africa, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.  Add in the other eleven sites, and you have protected at least 10% of the habitats of all 129 species.

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