Staghorn CoralLatin name: Acropora Cervicornis,
Conservsation status: critically endangered (population is stable)
Coral reefs are the most diverse ecosystems in the marine world and can take 10,000 years to form. They cover less than 1% of the ocean floor but are habitat for at least 25% of all known marine life. A coral is made up of thousands of tiny animals called polyps, protected by a hard skeleton. There are 160 different species of Staghorn Coral.
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.
Other animals at risk
Almost all Black Footed Albatrosses live in the Hawaiian Islands. Like all species of albatrosses that breed on low lying beaches and slopes, they are highly susceptible to sudden flooding from sea level rise and storm surges. Thousands each year are caught by longline fishing and they are also threatened by pollution and ingesting plastics that float in the ocean.
Pikas live primarily in cool micro-climates on rocky slopes, feeding in adjacent meadows. Warmer temperatures and reduced snowpack are the main threats. Some Pikas may move to higher, cooler regions if there is enough vegetation. Pikas living in lower, warmer regions are at risk if they attempt to move to other regions as they are extremely sensitive to heat—more than two hours in temperatures over 78 °F can be lethal. Without enough winter snow for insulation, Pikas will freeze.
Climate change may affect Hawksbill Turtles in various ways because they live in different habitats at different stages of life: open ocean, beaches, lagoons and coral reefs. Rising sand temperature of nesting beaches produces more females and other abnormalities in baby turtles. Adults live primarily in coral reefs—threatened by rising ocean temperature and acidity. Since ancient times the Hawksbill has been exploited for its shell. They are also threatened from fisheries by-catch, development, and a high sensitivity to oil spills. The population has decreased by an estimated 80% in the last 100 years.
In 50 years, the mean temperature of western Antarctica has risen nearly 3 °C—more than any other region—reducing the extent and thickness of winter ice. The Emperor Penguin is dependent on the ice for breeding, raising chicks and moulting. Less sea ice decreases zooplankton (krill) which feed on algae that grow on the underside of the ice. Krill are an important part of the food web for the Emperor and other Antarctic marine species.