Record-high Number of Species Under Threat of Extinction

Nearly 9,000 new species were added to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species on Thursday, pushing the total number of species on the list to over 100,000

The Red List of Threatened Species, produced and managed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is known globally as the world’s most comprehensive catalog of the current conservation status of living species.

This morning, the publication was updated to reflect the latest assessments of plant and animal species worldwide, including marine species, and the new numbers are shocking.

With nearly 9,000 new species added to the inventory, the total number of species under some level of threat of extinction has now climbed to an astounding number:


As reported in The Guardian, one of the most frightening aspects of the latest publication is how many species saw an improvement in their risk status… because there are none.

Not one single species, on a list that was previously over 90,000 and now has reached over 100,000, demonstrated improvement in status. Growing by the thousands in just a matter of years, the number of Red List species raises an ominous red flag even higher when it comes to protecting global biodiversity.

Amid the most concerning updates to the Red List, the media noted a number of worrying changes to the status of marine species. A few striking facts include:

  • Giant guitarfishes and wedgefishes, so-called because of their unique, wedgelike shape, have now garnered the title of the most at-risk marine species in the world. All but one of the 16 subspecies are listed as ‘critically endangered,’ one step away from extinction.
  • The shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) has moved from a status of Vulnerable to Endangered. On the IUCN Red List, over three-quarters of shark and ray species are classified as ‘near threatened’ or worse, with the number of endangered species growing with each publication update.
  • The first deep-sea mollusk to be added to the list was introduced: the scaly-foot snail.
  • A shocking 500 deep-sea bony fishes were also added to the list.

And this is just some of the alarming news to come out of the most recent update to the Red List. From the depths of the open ocean to coastlines around the globe, there are now more than 100,000 living species around the world in need of our help. If we don’t want them to succumb to the ever-growing threat of extinction, we must act now. We must take proactive, strategic and deliberate actions to protect and defend the biodiversity that makes our planet such a thriving, beautiful and wondrous place.


“105,732 species are now under threat of extinction, according to the IUCN Red List. It’s up to us to take decisive, immediate action to defend the biodiversity that makes our planet the wondrous place it is.”

Janis Searles Jones
CEO, Ocean Conservancy

Find ways to take action to protect species like the ones listed in our blog.  Then check out the list below of some of the most iconic marine species that are currently listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the IUCN. We bet you will be surprised at some of the ones on the list.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

(Lepidochelys kempii)

Critically Endangered

National Park Service

Yellow-Eyed Penguin

(Megadyptes antipodes)


Yellow-eyed Penguin_Kimberley Collins

Hammerhead Shark




Hawksbill Sea Turtle

(Eretmochelys imbricata)

Critically Endangered

Hawksbill Turtle_Jonas Gozjak

Galapagos Penguin

(Spheniscus mendiculus)


Galapagos Penguin

North Atlantic Right Whale

(Eubalaena glacialis)


North Atlantic_NOAA NMFS Northeast Regional Office News 060408

Green Sea Turtle

(Chelonia mydas)



Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

(Thunnus thynnus)



Whale Shark

(Rhincodon typus)


WhaleShark_crisod Thinkstock

Hawaiian Monk Seal

(Neomonachus schauinslandi)



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