29 August 2005

Wave of marine species extinctions feared

Scientists once thought the oceans were so vast there was little risk of marine species becoming extinct; they no longer believe that theory.

Now Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, says the Earth may on the cusp of "a gathering wave of ocean extinctions."

Her alarming view is shared by many scientists, including Samuel Gruber, a University of Miami professor who has spent two decades studying lemon sharks that breed in the Bahamas.

But the mangroves that provide food and protection for the sharks are being destroyed to make way for resort development.

"At the end of my career, I get to document the destruction of the species I`ve been documenting for 20 years," he told the Washington Post. "Wonderful."

Biologists note that of the 21 marine species that have become extinct in the past 300 years, 16 have occurred since 1972.

Scientists blame a combination of the post World War II industrialization of the world's fishing industry, a planet-wide boom in oceanfront development and global warming for causing the Earth's fish populations to plummet.

Source: science.monstersandcritics.com


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