The climate crisis threatens these marine creatures [photo gallery]

Around one-third of all marine life will face extinction within 300 years if global temperatures keep rising, says a new report in Science.

The extinction of ocean creatures would weaken global economies, harm land-based ecosystems and change life on Earth as we know it.

“The ocean is our lifeblood, impacting a $500 billion global economy and the livelihoods of 1 out of every 10 people in the world,” Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said April 13. The ocean is a delicate ecosystem that must be protected. About 3 billion people depend on the ocean for their livelihoods, from jobs to sources of protein.

These are some of the marine species at risk.


A blue sea star (Linckia laevigata) sits among coral colonies on a diverse coral reef off of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. This region is incredibly rich in marine life. (© Ethan Daniels/

Starfish aren’t actually fish — they’re echinoderms, an underwater animal that doesn’t have a spine. Starfish live in both the deep sea and more shallow waters in the ocean and are an important part of their ecosystems. Their feeding habits control their environment. The climate crisis, however, will disrupt their habitats and make it harder for these spineless friends to survive on a failing food chain.

Sea snails

A helmet shell snail crawling on sand near Sydney. (© Auscape/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

Sea snails might be small but they have a big impact on ocean ecosystems. These algae-eaters help regulate their environments and scientists often look to them to see how ecosystems are affected by the climate crisis. Unfortunately, because warming waters, pollution and ocean acidification put stress on these ecosystems, sea snails will be some of the first to suffer.

Flying fish

A flying fish in the Caribbean Sea. (© WaterFrame/Alamy)

No, flying fish don’t have wings and fly like birds. Instead, they use their fins to propel themselves to great heights by jumping out of the water and catching the breeze. These energetic jumpers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and will be at risk as waters continue to warm and acidify.

Table coral

An Indian Ocean oriental sweetlips swims near the Maldives April 8, 2017. (© Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Coral reefs account for only 1% of the ocean floor but supply shelter to more than 25% of marine life. Half of the world’s coral reefs have already died or have been severely damaged. By 2100, 95% of warm water corals could be gone.


A marble shrimp sits on coral near Papua New Guinea. (© SeaTops/Alamy)

There are over 2,000 species of shrimp around the world. Shrimp are a multibillion-dollar global industry because these crustaceans form a crucial part of many different cultures’ diets around the world. Some shrimp, like this marble shrimp in New Guinea, live deep in the ocean and play an essential role in underwater ecosystems.