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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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At Sea, at Risk
24 April 2001 7:00 pm
The smalltooth sawfish may soon become the first marine fish living in U.S. waters to be listed as an endangered species. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) last week concluded that the sawfish, a shark relative, was "in danger of extinction" due to fish net entanglements and habitat loss. Scientists believe the U.S. population, which once ranged from the Gulf of Mexico to North Carolina, has declined by as much as 99%, with survivors confined to a few areas off Florida.
There has been a long debate about whether humans can drive marine organisms to extinction, since seagoing species often produce millions of offspring and are widely distributed (Science, 25 July 1997, p. 486). Researchers have identified just one marine mollusk, a limpet that lived off New England, that has gone extinct in the 20th century. And NMFS has listed just one other fully marine fish, Mexico's tautog, as endangered. But the American Fisheries Society last year warned that dozens of other marine fish species are at risk. In particular, coastal species like the sawfish that grow slowly, mature late, and produce relatively few young are vulnerable to being wiped out by overfishing, pollution, and other human activities.
Sonja Fordham of the Center for Marine Conservation, which asked for the sawtooth's listing, says NMFS's move "sends an important warning that marine fish can indeed be threatened by human activities." The listing is due to be finalized later this year.