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.
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.
The annual North American migration of the Monarch is listed as a "threatened phenomenon." Climate related threats include: drought, storms, changes in precipitation and dependence on temperature to trigger migration and reproduction. The Monarch feeds and lays eggs exclusively on milkweed plants, so it is also highly vulnerable to herbicides and habitat destruction.
Clownfish live in the shallow waters of coral reefs where they have a mutually beneficial relation with a few species of sea anemone. The anenome protects the Clownfish, and the fish's swimming aerates the water around the anenome. Clownfish are unable to move long distances, and rising ocean temperature and acidity is a threat to their coral reef habitats. Increased acidity also seems to impair their ability to navigate to their home anemones.