Animals

Published on December 13th, 2009 | by Zachary Shahan

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45 Species of Galapagos Islands Extinct or Facing Extinction due to Overfishing and Climate Change

A new report published in the journal Global Change Biology shows that 45 species of the Galapagos Islands have become extinct or are facing extinction largely due to human activities.

The main causes are the 1982 El Nino and overfishing. The results show the great vulnerability of this diverse area to significant climate change and human activities.


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The El Nino event of 1982 destroyed many coral reefs in the Galapagos, some of which had been living for 400 years. Following that event, overfishing in the area (of large predatory fish and lobsters) caused the sea urchin population to explode and overgraze the coral. This further harmed and killed the coral reefs that survived El Nino.

The 45 species that have now disappeared or are facing extinction include 5 mammals, 6 birds, 5 reptiles, 6 fish, 1 echinoderm, 7 corals, 6 brown algae and 9 red algae.

Included in these species is the Mangrove finch that was once studied by Charles Darwin. According to Matt Walker of BBC, there are fewer than 200 of these birds remaining, “all of which are dependant on mangroves that are susceptible to further climate change.”

Additional species are the Galapagos sea lion (above), the marine iguana (above), the Galapagos penguin (below) and pink cup coral.

I think as we move forward, recognizing the disappearance and life of these species (species going extinct due to human activities) is important to stop unprecedented greenhouse gas emissions resulting in catastrophic climate change and other unsustainable human activities that are wiping out the life and diversity of the natural world.

The Galapagos is one vulnerable area that is clearly seeing the effects of these harmful human activities.

via BBC Earth News

Related Stories:
1) Tourist Mosquitoes Threaten the Galapagos
2) Near Extinct Galapagos Tortoise Successfully Mates at 90
3) Sea Level Rise of Up to 1.9 Meters (6′3″) This Century?
4) Ancestors of Mammals May Have Survived Largest Mass-Extinction in History in Antarctica
5) 11 Extinct Animals That Have Been Photographed Alive
6) 10 Animals on the Brink of Extinction

Image Credit 1: Peri Apex via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 2: Tomer Arazy via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 3: Len Blumin via flickr under a Creative Commons license






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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • Ronin Kannushi

    To a degree, climate change is attributable to pollution; it is the only manageable facet.

    Earth has been evolving, geologically, for hundreds-of-millions of years; Pangaea to five(5) continents, and still moving. Continental drift, tectonic plate activity, and magnetic polar shift are the basis of atmospheric conditions.

    Our Sun has been cooling at a predictable rate, and sunspots are a minor player, overall due to the disruptions sunspots cause to electrical commerce.

    Volcanic activity, below sea level, has caused the advance and retreat of glacial activity. Combined with huge volcanic eruptions above sea level, which have been the cause of many prehistoric ages demise, our planet will make many species extinct. We can not change the climate!

    El nino can be sourced to the bottom of the ocean, same as the Hawaiian Islands. Fissures, between the tectonic plates release magma, and ocean currents pocket the heated water in a region, El Nino, heating the atmosphere.

    We can control overfishing, and pollution. Both very hard to do, since nations have different resources, religion(s), and political machinations.

    It be it,
    Ronin Kannushi

  • Gerard Vaughan

    Well this is very sad news indeed. What can be done, before it is completely too late ?. T hope that the Galapogeans can organize themselves to at least try to take evasive actions is as much as I can do – apart from struggle-on handing-out simple facts concerning the getting of energy from the wind. In this I have some 20 years of experience and a prototype Turbine-Alternator Device – TAD – systems comprised of which, grow at several percent per annum in a windy site. Some 50x higher a growth than current – abysmally worse than useless (80m high) “technology”. In fact such useless systems do not grow at all without Input of energy from the sources which they pretend to be replacing. There are simple reasons for this difference which appear to be ignored by both government departments and “ecologically concerned” groups alike. Primary school arithmetic, Areas and Volumes. It’s Basic.
    It’s Crime, and not that only guns will sort it out – but they are sure to be rquired, as the other lot are in no doubt about this.

  • http://www.solaruk.com/ Jasper

    This focus on the Galapagos Islands is appropriate given that it’s the 150th anniversary of ‘On Origin of Species’, the culmination of ideas planted in Darwin’s mind by his visit to these islands in particular. Also, as it’s almost the end of the decade, it’s worthwhile looking back at the Noughties and some of the species that have become extinct in the last decade. There’s a blog posting on this on the SolarUK weblog: http://solarukweblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/last-chance-to-see/

  • Zachary Shahan

    Jasper, thanks for the link

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