The most threatened species in the Mediterranean Sea

Marine Life

The most threatened species in the Mediterranean Sea

Written by Scuba Turtles   |   31 March 2023


Although the Mediterranean Sea is an orchard ecosystem with about 7% of the world’s fish species and the world’s second largest biodiversity, the number of threatened species is constantly increasing. In accordance with Maritime Crimes “More than 8% of Mediterranean fish species are affected”.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature have developed a list of endangered species. The Mediterranean Red List is managed by the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation. Nearly 700 scientists from across the region have contributed to the Mediterranean Red List of Species.

This Red List points that there are 14 species critically endangered. Let us show you some of them.

1. Sharks

Six shark species are on the Red List, making them one of the most threatened. Annually, the region catches 1.5 million tons of fish for international trade. These activities have resulted in the destruction of reef systems and the depletion of essential fish stocks. Therefore, to protect the important role that sharks play in the Mediterranean ecosystem, drastic measures must be taken to reduce commercial fishing and prevent the destruction of their habitats.

The critically endangered list include: three different types of Angel Shark, Sand Tiger Shark, Great Hammerhead and School shark. Read more on ocean conservation and shark protection in Greece here.

2. Rays

For rays, the biggest threat is also the fishing industry. Six species were red-listed between 2015 and 2020, and the population continues to decline. Two types of Eagle Rays (Common and Duckbill), Maltese Ray, Lusitanian Cownose Ray and two types of Guitarfish are now in the critical endangered category.


3. Sea Turtles

Over the past decade, sea turtles have been protected, and some have shifted from endangered to vulnerable. The Hawksbill turtle was not that lucky and is on the list of species in critical danger of extinction. A few of the biggest threats are tourism, aquaculture, and oil drilling.

If you wish to know how you could help protect this species in Greece, visit this Archelon page they need any help they can get.

4. Sturgeon

This species is known to be the offspring of earlier acipenseriform fish, which date from the early Jurassic period. Being aware of this fact, it is really sad to learn that there are four different species of sturgeon on the EC List: Ship Sturgeon, Stellate Sturgeon, Adriatic Sturgeon and Russian Sturgeon. Besides the other threats, we also encounter alteration of the natural system such as dams and other problematic diseases that have emerged over the past years.


There is a lot of work to be done to protect our oceans, and all we need to do is learn about them. We need more legislation and protected areas to recover species at risk. It is up to us to help our sea get back on its feet. If you would like to find out more about the Mediterranean Sea and its species, we have the right course for you here.