Protecting 4% of the Oceans at 9 Locations Could Save Most Marine Mammals Species


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The Least We Could Do

You might have heard of the 80/20 rule. It says that in many cases, you can get about 80% of the result for 20% of the effort. Well, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, something similar might apply to the protection of marine mammal species. Of the 129 species of marine mammals on Earth, including seals, dolphins and polar bears, about 1/4 are facing extinction, but most of them could be saved if we could protect just 4% of the planet's oceans (obviously, more than 4% would be even better!).


Photo: Wikipedia, CC

9 Sites to Protect 84% of Marine Mammals

Researchers overlaid maps of where each marine mammal species is found to figure out the areas that would give the biggest 'bang for the buck', so to speak. Their composite map revealed locations with the highest "species richness", the first time that such maps were compiled for marine mammals.

20 key conservation sites were identified, and protecting just 9 of them - representing 4% of the world's oceans - would protect habitat for 84 percent of all marine mammal species on Earth! These 9 sites are located off the coasts of Baja California in Mexico, eastern Canada, Peru, Argentina, northwestern Africa, South Africa, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.


Photo: Wikipedia, CC

"It's important to protect marine mammals if you want to keep the ocean's ecosystems functional," said study co-author Paul Ehrlich, professor of biology and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford. "Many of them are top predators and have impacts all the way through the ecosystem. And they're also beautiful and interesting." (source)

Whales might be the best-known marine mammals, but there are many others such as dolphins, sea lions, otters, leopard seals, etc. Wikipedia has a convenient list of marine mammals.

Via Science Daily

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