Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Marine animals under threat

The main threat to the welfare of individual marine animals and the conservation of their species is human activity.


100 million sharks are killed each year for fins (for soup and ‘trophies’ in the Far East), but also for flesh, liver oil and skin.  Local basking shark populations have been hunted near to extinction.  They have UK protection but none elsewhere.  Since 2002 they are CITES* Appendix II, but this only monitors not prohibits trade so better safeguards are needed.

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.


Green Turtle (c) TTDCP
Exploitation has devastated turtle populations

Over-exploitation for meat, shells and eggs, plus disturbance of nesting beaches and marine pollution have decimated global populations of all seven species.  Populations recover slowly; turtles do not mature until 30 years and one egg in a thousand survives to adulthood.


The gentle dugong is defenceless against exploitation and has been extensively hunted for meat and oil.  Other dangers include accidental entanglement in fishing nets and habitat disturbance by destructive fishing practices.  Thought to be Africa’s most endangered large mammal.


Dolphins (c) Mail on Sunday
Action is needed to protect wild dolphins

Tens of thousands of dolphins drown each year in fishing nets, plus over-fishing has diminished their food stocks.  Other threats include their accumulation of toxins, habitat destruction and noise pollution.  Wild dolphins are regularly caught for the captive industry, and while whaling was banned in 1986, Japan and Norway ignore the ban and campaign to legalise whaling again.

Conservation Status

All seven species of marine turtles and are endangered.  Basking sharks and dugongs are IUCN1 listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’.  The orca is not thought to be endangered but local populations are under threat.

1International Union for Conservation of Nature

IWC 2008

Reports from 2008 International Whaling Commission meeting in Chile

Day Zero, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5







Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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