When roamed the Earth (Shultz,1). If this

When a species becomes extinct, it means that it is no longer alive anywhere in the world; they are essentially gone forever. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “When I hear of the destruction of a species, I feel just as if all of the works of some great writer have perished.”  All animals big or small, play a vital role in the ecosystem. When a species deceases, their contribution to the natural world also diminishes. As a result, there is an imbalance in the food chain which can cause threats to other animal populations. Since the beginning of human history, animals have experienced five natural extinctions. There are two types of extinctions; natural and unnatural.  Natural extinction occurs when a collective group of species is eradicated over a long timespan. A well-known example of a natural extinction is what happened to the dinosaurs. They ruled the planet for millions of years until they were wiped out by an asteroid. A species that becomes extinct at a rapid rate is called unnatural extinction. More recently, there has been a dramatic increase in this type of extinction.  Some of the major causes of extinctions caused by humans are poaching, deforestation, global warming, and habitat destruction. As the human population increases, additional groups of animals also decrease because of human activity. Species are disappearing at a rate thousand times faster than before humans roamed the Earth (Shultz,1). If this trend continues, it is predicted that 50% of all species could become extinct by 2050 (Shultz,1). With this being said, human activity has proven to negatively perturb the natural world and the severity of these actions will become apparent over the next few decades. Approximately 71% of Earth’s surface is water, and more than 2 million species inhabits the ocean. Unfortunately, many of these marine species are being driven to extinction by overfishing and pollution from greenhouse gases. When co2 is released into the atmosphere, most of it is absorbed by the ocean, forming carbonic acid. Therefore making the ocean more acidic. Recently, immense amounts of co2 has been entering the ocean. According to national geographic, “roughly 22 million tons,” of co2 is entering the ocean daily (Geographic,1). Most of which is man-made from humans.  This much acidification in the ocean can be extremely detrimental to marine life; by preventing them from growing their shells. Such marine animals that are affected is plankton. Planktons are colossally important to the planet. Biologist Stephen Leahy says, “the oceans are the lifeblood to our planet, and plankton its red blood cells” (Leahy, 1). Without plankton the entire ecosystem would collapse. Not only do plankton produce food, but almost every fish in the sea feed off of plankton. Without plankton all species of fish would die off; for instance, sharks. Sharks, an infamous apex predator, plays an important role in the ocean’s ecosystem because of they help maintain the health of the ocean, and help ensure diversity. However, the shark population has been rapidly decreasing over the course of the years due to shark finning and commercial fishing. Sharks finning has become increasingly popular, especially in the Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup. Another dilemma that sharks face is commercial fishing. With the increasing demand for fish and other related foods, sharks are left with fewer choices, thus discouraging reproduction. Another issue sharks face is netting. Sometimes sharks are accidentally caught in fishermens nets that were meant to catch other fish. Michael Rogers says, “sharks are integral to the carbon cycle and if they vanish, the carbon loading the atmosphere will increase, causing untold damage from global warming” (Rogers,1).  Sharks also play an important part in balancing the food chain. For example, studies have shown that the decline of sharks led to an increase of ray populations. Which then led to a multitude of fisheries to shut down therefore affecting the economy. Another important animal that is endangered is the coral reefs. The coral reefs not only produce food for other fish, but they also provide shelter. Brian Skoloff says, “If reefs vanished, experts say, hunger, poverty and political stability could ensue,” meaning these things could result if  the reefs were to vanish (Skoloff, 1). Millions of people rely on coral reefs for food indirectly. Humans eat the fish that feed off of the coral reefs. About 9 million different species live on the coral reefs, these animals would diminish as well if the coral were to go extinct. Coral reefs could become extinct because of  fishing nets dragging on the ocean floor, pollution, and climate change. Global warming has caused the ocean to rise in temperature. This rise in temperature causes coral bleaching. When the water is too warm the coral will get rid of its algae living in the tissue, causing it to turn white. Coral reefs require clean, fresh water in order to survive and thrive. Pollution in the ocean increases the amount of damaging algae, which then lowers the quality of the water. The Florida Marine Sanctuary also states that, “pollution can also make corals more susceptible disease, impeded coral growth and production, and cause changes in food structure…:” (National Sanctuary, 1). It is extremely important that the coral reefs be protected; they hold an abundant amount of biodiversity, and it would be a tragedy to lose. The blue whale is one of the largest animals on the planet. These beautiful, long creatures have been on Earth for billions of years. It is said that they have the loudest sound on Earth, and can  be heard by other whales many miles away. During the 1900’s the blue whale was on the verge of extinction due to commercial whaling (Whale, 1). In 1946 a law to regulate whaling was signed by multiple countries; in hopes to increase the blue whale population. Unfortunately, this law was loosely followed; and hunting of the blue whales still continues. A study has shown that, “worldwide numbers of blue whales have reduced from 220.000 to as little as 3,000” (Geer,1). A common use for the blue whale is their meat. In 2015, a Santa Monica restaurant was closed down because of the illegal serving of whale meat (Caesar, 1). The chef of the restaurant had received approval to order and sell whale meat in order to attract more customers. Even though whale hunting is illegal, countries are able to continue the hunting in disguise. This is because of a loophole in the ban, that says a blue whale can be hunted if it is for scientific research. Abigail Geer says, “despite citing ‘scientific research’ as a reason for capture, no data is ever published by reputable scientific journals,” (Geer,1). Not only are blue whales being hunted into extinction, but they are eating into extinction. Approximately eight hundred million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean every year (Parker,1). Huge quantities of plastic affects many marine animals; more specifically the blue whale. Blue whales and other marine animals often mistake plastic for food, therefore consuming it. Erwin Vermeulen says, “accidental ingestion of plastic can block a whale’s digestive system, leading to starvation and death,” (Vermeulen, 1). On February 3, scientists found a dead whale with more than 30 plastic bags, as well as other plastic debris in the whale’s stomach (Horton, 1). A zoologist, who studied the whale’s intestines has concluded that the plastic had led to the whales malnourishment and caused extreme pain. This is not always the case when whales die from plastic. Some will die at sea and never be found therefore, “the plastics in their stomachs can eventually be released back into the oceans and continue their destructive path,” (Vermeulen, 1). If precautions are not taken to reduce the amount of plastic entering the ocean scientists have said there will be more plastic than sealife in the ocean by the year 2050 (Horton, 1).

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