More fish driven to extinction


Cichlids, trout, barbs, sharks, rays and cyprinids join 16,000 other species on the road to extinction, according to the latest tally.

The World Conservation Union's IUCN 2006 Red List, which was released this week, provides a list of the world's rarest organisms and publishes details on their conservation status so scientists and governments can use the data to aid the protection of the species.

Several fish species have been classified as extinct in the 2006 Red List, with two rare middle eastern cichlids, a trout and four cyprinids making up the numbers.

In most cases, extinctions have been caused by habitat destruction and the addition of non-native species to the environment.

New extinctions

Acanthobrama hulensis

This cyprinid fish, described by Goran, Fishelson and Trewavas in 1973, is sometimes considered a member of the Mirogrex genus and was endemic to the Hula lake and adjacent swaps in Israel. The swamps were drained between 1950 and 1970 which led to the species being restricted to a very small part of the Hula nature reserve. Unfortunately, the nature reserve switched its water supply and the fish was driven to extinction. It hasn't been recorded there since 1975 and is now officially considered extinct.

Tristamella intermedia

This rare tilapiine cichlid was also to endemic to Lake Hula in Israel, and has been driven to extinction for the same reasons as Acanthobrama hulensis.

Tristamella magdalenae

Tristamella magdalenae is another rare tilapiine cichlid from the middle east and was described from fish collected in the 1950s. The species has not been found since and is therefore presumed to be extinct.

Telestes ukliva

Sometimes considered to be a member of the Leuciscus genus, this cyprinid fish from Turkey hasn't been seen since 1988. Surveys have been undertaken to locate the fish but no specimens were found and experts believe that there are no waters nearby that could harbour the fish, so it must now be considered extinct.

Salmo pallaryi

This trout from Morocco is so rare that it hasn't been seen since the 1930s. It's population is believed to have declined due to competition with introduced common carp. It's so rare than only two specimens are present in the world's museum collections. It's now officially extinct.

Chrondrostoma scodrense

C. scodrense, a cyprinid from Albania, was last listed by the IUCN back in 1996 as being criticially endangered. Despite surveys in the 80s and 90s, and as recently as a few years ago, the fish could not be found in the wild. The last officially recorded specimens may not have been seen since the original nine specimens were caught 100 years ago and described in 1987 by Elvira.

Barbus microbarbis

This rare barb, which reaches a size of just under 30cm/12" in length, comes from Rwanda in East Africa. Despite regular surveys of Lake Luhondo, where it was previously found, it hasn't been rediscovered for fifty years and now is officially listed as extinct. Introduced haplochromine cichlids and Tilapia added to Lake Luhondo for food are believed to be responsible for its demise.

Alburnus akili

The small bream-like cyprinid was endemic to Turkey's Lake Beyeshir but overfishing and predation by introduced pikeperch saw its population there plummet. It hasn't been since 1998 and is now considered to be extinct.

Other additions

Carcharhinus longimanus

The Oceanic whitetip shark, Carcharhinus longimanus, is one of the most widespread species of elasmobranch fish but fishing pressures mean that it is becoming rarer. The 2006 IUCN redlist determines the species as vulnerable.

Squatina squatina

The Angel shark, Squatina squatina, was previously considered vulnerable in the 2004 redlist, but benthic trawl fishing, set nets and longlines mean that its abundance has dropped dramatically. It's been uplisted to critically endangered in the 2006 redlist. This is just one step away from extinct.

Manta birostris

The Manta ray, Manta birostris, is used in Chinese medicine and has become so heavily fished in recent years, along with other members of the Mobilidae family, that the ray is become much more scarce. It's classed as near threatened in the latest redlist.

Telestes polylepis

Known only from a small stream in Croatia, measuring just 1km by 2km, this rare cyprinid, sometimes referred to as a Leuciscus species, is becoming even rarer due to habitat degradation, water extraction and competition from introduced species of trout. This fish is now classed as critically endangered, the highest vulnerability status below extinction.

Acanthobrama telavivensis

This bream from Israel has been under threat for some time following a population crash that started in the 1950s. Drought in 1999 saw the species all but disappear, but captive breeding of some of the remaining specimens has allowed the fish to be restocked at two places in Israel, but it appears that neither of these populations has bred, so the species is now classed as extinct in the wild.

The last IUCN Red List, published in 2004, was dominated by the ichthyofauna of Madagascar. Dozens of threatened rainbowfishes, killifish and cichlids from the island of Madagascar were added to the list in 2004, as well as a number of new marine species, ranging from groupers to gobies.