Preserving just 4 percent of the ocean could protect crucial habitat for the vast majority of marine mammal species, according to researchers at Stanford University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.Of the 129 species of marine mammals on Earth, including seals, dolphins, and polar bears, approximately one-quarter are facing extinction.
“It’s important to protect marine mammals if you want to keep the ocean’s ecosystems functional,” says 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.”
To pinpoint areas of the ocean where conservation could protect the maximum number of species and the ones most vulnerable to extinction, the researchers overlaid maps of where each marine mammal species is found. Their composite map revealed locations with the highest “species richness”—the highest number of different species.
Full story at Futurity.
(Photo credit: NOAA)