NarwhalLatin name: Monodon Monoceros ,
Conservsation status: near threatened (population is decreasing, some populations unknown)
The rarest of whales, the Narwhal—"unicorn of the ocean"—has two teeth, one of which can grow more than nine feet long in the male. The tooth is sensitive to temperatures and chemicals in the water and scientists think it enables males to find food as well as females ready to mate. Narwhals dive deeper than any whales—as deep as 5,000 feet—and stay under for 25 minutes before surfacing for air.
The Narwhal lives mainly in the Atlantic Arctic. Because of specialized habitat, narrow range and limited diet (Arctic cod and halibut), it is one of the Arctic species most vulnerable to climate change. The Narwhal breeds in bays and fjords, moving offshore during winter to areas of heavy ice pack, breathing through the few cracks. Sudden or extreme temperature change can cause these cracks to freeze shut, trapping the whales. Other threats are illegal hunting, industrial activities, and risks from oil development, exploration and shipping in the Arctic.
Other animals at risk
Koalas live in the woodlands of Australia. Thick fur and skin make it difficult for them to adapt to rising temperatures. Increased CO2 in the air produces less protein in the eucalyptus leaves, forcing the Koala to search for other sources of food and, in times of high heat, water. On the ground, the slow moving Koalas are prey to wild dingoes and domestic dogs, or are hit by cars as they cross roads. Their habitats are also being destroyed by drought, bush fires and development.
All populations of Ringed Seals are expected to be adversely affected by climate change because of dependence on sea ice and snow dens for breeding, protecting pups, moulting and resting. Early warming causes pups to separate prematurely from their mothers. As sea ice declines, other threats are fisheries by-catch, increased shipping, tourism and development. Seals are vulnerable to disease from heavy concentrations of pollutants that have accumulated in the Arctic food web.
The Bramble Cay Melomys was the first species to be declared extinct because of climate change. Sea level rise and storm surges washed away its habitat, food and the last of the population. In 2014 scientists went searching in the hopes of starting a breeding program but were unable to find a pair. Other sea birds and turtles that live on the Cay are also threatened by storm surges and sea level rise.
In the last 30 years the Staghorn Coral population has decreased by 80% from disease, pollution, development and damage. Climate change is increasing the risk of extinction. Corals live in symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relation with algae. The coral receives nutrients and oxygen from algae, and the algae receive nutrients and carbon dioxide from the coral. Rising sea temperature increases algae growth so oxygen levels become too high for the coral, causing "bleaching"—the coral expels the algae and dies. Higher ocean acidity contributes to bleaching and also reduces the ability of corals and other marine animals to build hard shells. Other threats from climate change are sea level rise, changes in currents and storm damage.