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17 Endangered Animals in Coral Reef

by afina

There are many creatures hanging their lives onto the coral reefs. Many threats including warming temperature, coral bleaching, and ocean acidification has caused some animals in the coral reefs become endangered. These are 17 Endangered Animals in Coral Reefs that you should know.

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1. Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

The kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) is a small sea turtle species which is the rarest species of sea turtle.  The species reaches maturity at 58–70 cm carapace length and weighing 36–45 kg. Like the other sea turtles, it has a dorsoventrally depressed body with uniquely adapted flipper-like front limbs and a beak.

The color of the adult’s oval carapace is olive-gray. The carapace is almost as wide as it is long. Kemp’s ridley turtle preys on mollusks, fish, crustaceans, jellyfish, algae or seaweed, and sea urchins.

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2. Great Hammerhead Shark

The great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) is the largest species of hammerhead shark found in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide, inhabiting coastal areas and the continental shelf. It attainins a maximum length of 6.1 m.

The species has typical streamlined body with the expanded cephalofoil. Their diet includes invertebrates such as crabs, lobsters, squid, and octopus, bony fishes and smaller sharks such as smoothhounds. This endangered species is hugely vulnerable to overfishing due to its low overall abundance and long generation time.

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3.Warsaw Grouper

The warsaw grouper (Hyporthodus nigritus) is native to the Western Atlantic from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba, Trinidad, and south to Brazil. Warsaw groupers are deep-water groupers which inhabit reefs on the continental shelf break in waters 55 to 525 m deep.

Their body color is dark reddish-brown or brownish-grey to almost black in color dorsally, and dull reddish-grey ventrally. They can reach 240 cm in length. Fishing or by catch release mortality are the major threats to the Warsaw grouper.

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4. Zebra Shark

The zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) is a species of carpet shark found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific, frequenting coral reefs and sandy flats to a depth of 62 m. The adults can reach the length up to 2.5 m.

The zebra shark feeds primarily on shelled molluscs, crustaceans, small bony fishes, and also sea snakes. The slender, flexible body of this shark allows it to wriggle into narrow holes and cracks in search of food. Zebra sharks are highly susceptible to localized depletion due to their shallow habitat and low levels of distribution between populations.

See also: Types of Abalone – Types of Ocean Rays

5. Speckeld Hind

The speckled hind gets its name from the multitude of tiny white spots that cover its reddish-brown head, body and fins. This species is native to Bermuda and the United States.

Its natural habitats are open seas, shallow seas, subtidal aquatic beds, and coral reefs. Speckled hind are under the threats of habitat loss and bycatch from the deepwater snapper/grouper fisheries off the coast of North Carolina through Texas. People catch them directly in recreational fisheries by hook and line mostly.

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6. European Eel

The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a species of eel, a catadromous fish that looks like a snake. They can reach the length normally around 60–80 cm. Eels begin their life cycle in the ocean and spend most of their lives in fresh inland water then returning to the ocean to spawn and die.

Eels have been important sources of food including jellied eels and glass eels.  The European eel is a critically endangered species due to overfishing, parasites such as Anguillicola crassus, barriers to migration, and natural changes.

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7. Atlantic Goliath Grouper

The Atlantic goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) is a large saltwater fish grouper found mainly in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m. They may reach huge sizes, growing to lengths up to 2.5 m and can weigh of about 360 kg. Atlantic goliath grouper were a highly sought-after quarry for fishermen as a fine food quality.

This species becomes one of the endangered animals in coral reefs since it is vulnerable to mass harvesting while breeding since they tend to spawn in large aggregations and return annually to the same locations.

See also: How to Prevent El Nino – Ocean Problems

8. Dusky Grouper

The dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus) is a grouper native to Mediterranean Sea and North Africa coast that normally inhabits in and around rocky reefs from surface waters dawn to as much as 300 m in depth. The dusky grouper has a a very large, oval body and large head with a wide mouth which has a protruding lower jaw. This species can grow between 90-50 cm in standard length. Their main diet is molluscs, crustaceans and octopii but as they grow larger, they prefer reef fish too.

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9. Nassau grouper

The Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) is an endangered animal in coral reefs that has been the most important of the groupers for commercial fishery in the West Indies. This species is a medium to large fish, growing to over a meter long and weigh up to 25 kg. It has a thick body and a large mouth to swallow prey. It is a solitary fish which prefer to feed in the daytime.

The main food is including other fish and small crustaceans such as crabs and small lobsters. The species is highly vulnerable to overexploitation since they are the target of commercial and for sport fishing.

See also: Sea Erosion – Sea Abrasion

10. Green Humphead Parrotfish

The green humphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) is the largest species of parrotfish. It grows to lengths of 1.3 m and weighs up to 46 kg. It lives on reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from the Red Sea in the west to Samoa in the east, and from the Yaeyama Islands in the north to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, in the south. The species inhabits clear outer lagoons and seaward reefs up to a depth of 30 m. Their main diet is benthic algae and live corals.

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11. Banggai Cardinalfish

The Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) is a small tropical cardinalfish native to to the Banggai Islands of Indonesia. This species grows up to 8 cm long. The Banggai cardinalfish lives in variety of shallow habitats, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, and open areas of sand and rubble. It feeds on planktonic, demersal, and benthic organisms.

This species serves as an important diet for several species of lionfish, the honeycob grouper, the crocodilefish, the snowflake moray, the estuarine stonefish, and the yellow-lipped sea krait.

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12. Short-nosed Sea Snake

The short-nosed sea snake (Aipysurus apraefrontalis) is a critically endangered species of venomous sea snake which occurs on reefs off the northern coast of Western Australia. This sea snake is brown in color and has a slender body which grow up to 60 cm long.

They prefer to swim in the water at depth of more than 10 m, but rest during the day under coral overhangs in 2 m depth. Warmer sea temperatures and commercial prawn trawling activities have been the factors that cause negative impact into their numbers.

See also: Types of Sea – Effects of Ocean Currents

13. Japanese Eel

The Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) is a species of anguillid eel native toJapan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the northern Philippines. Eel is catadromous, which means it spawns in the sea, but lives parts of its life in fresh water.

The spawning area of the Japanese eel includes the North Equatorial Current in the western North Pacific to the west of the Mariana Islands. The Japanese eel is an important food fish and medicine in East Asia. In Japan, people call it unagi, while the grilled eel is called kabayaki.

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14. Japanese Spiky Sea Cucumber

The Japanese Spiky Sea Cucumber is a species of sea cucumber found in shallow temperate waters along the coasts of south east Asia. It has a cylindrical leathery body with blunt, thorny protuberances in three different colour morphs, red, green and black.

The Japanese sea cucumber screens through the sediment on the seabed with its tentacles. It feeds on detritus and other organic matters including plant and animal residue, bacteria, protozoa, diatoms and feces.

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15. Leaf-scaled Sea Snake

The leaf-scaled sea snake (Aipysurus foliosquama), is a venomous sea snake which belongs to the endangered animals in the coral reefs. This species is endemic to the Ashmore and Cartier Islands of Australia. It prefers waters up to 10 metres in depth. Its known habitats were some 1,700 km away in the Ashmore and Hibernia Reefs in the Timor Sea.

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16. Timor Reef Snake

The Timor Reef snake (Aipysurus fuscus) is a species of sea snake found in the Timor Sea between Australia, Indonesia and East Timor and has been one of the endangered animals in coral reefs. The sea snakes’s color is dark, purplish brown, brown, or blackish brown above. It inhabits reefs in shallow marine habitats at depths of up to 30 m. Their population is probably vulnerable of coral bleaching and general decreases in the health of the ecosystems.

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17. Pondicherry Shark

The Pondicherry shark (Carcharhinus hemiodon) is a small and stocky gray shark which grows no more than 1 m in length. It feeds on bony fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans. The females give birth to live young with the embryos forming a placental connection to their mother. The shark is under the threats of intense and escalating fishing pressure throughout its range. This endangered animal is one of species that are the focus of Global Wildlife Conservation’s “Search for Lost Species” initiative in the 25 “most wanted lost”.

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Those are 17 Endangered Animals in the Coral Reefs you need to expand your knowledge about. The coral reefs are home for many lives not only for the marine creatures, but also for human. Protecting the coral reefs means protecting many lives.

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