When you think of the planet’s most endangered species, some common examples that might come to mind include rhinos, elephants, tigers, gorillas and leopards. But a new report has identified the two most endangered species in every state — and the answer might not be what you think.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are 15 threatened or endangered species in Massachusetts, including types of bumble bees, beetles, and bats. But the two most threatened animals are a couple of turtles.
Plymouth Redbelly Turtle
- Scientific name: pseudemys rubriventris bangsi
- IUCN Red List classification: Critically Endangered
- Description: Carapace brown to black with flattened or slightly concave vertebral scutes; red bar on each marginal scute. Prominent notch at tip of upper jaw flanked by toothlike cusps; arrow-shaped stripe runs atop head, between eyes, to snout. Plastron reddish; dark markings along scute seams fade with age. Male has elongated, straight claws on front feet.
Geographic range: In Massachusetts, mostly in the Plymouth County area.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
- Scientific name: eretmochelys imbricata
- IUCN Red List classification: Critically endangered
- Description: The endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle is one of seven species of sea turtles found throughout the world. One of the smaller sea turtles, it has overlapping scutes (plates) that are thicker than those of other sea turtles. This protects them from being battered against sharp coral and rocks during storm events. Adults range in size from 30 to 36 inches (0.8-1.0 meters) carapace length, and weigh 100 to 200 pounds (45-90 kilograms). Its carapace (upper shell) is an attractive dark brown with faint yellow streaks and blotches and a yellow plastron (under shell). The name “hawksbill” refers to the turtle’s prominent hooked beak.
- Geographic range: Along Atlantic seaboard, including Massachusetts coast.
Hawaii has by far the most number of animals on the federal registry at more than 500. While accounting for just 0.2 percent of America’s land mass, it is home to a quarter of the federally endangered species, according to the Mother Nature Network.
Other animals on the 24/7 Wall St. list include various species of sea turtles, rabbits and cranes. More broadly, it features mammals, marine animals, fish, insects, birds, amphibians and reptiles, to name just a few.Various species of mollusks — a key sustenance source for fish — make the list, including the spectaclecase, a freshwater mussel. This is often because of the construction of dams, which disrupt the flow of water and can even change its temperature, leading to massive mollusk losses.
The financial news and opinion site reviewed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s listing of endangered animals to identify the most threatened animals in every state. The site says many of the animals appear in multiple states.
“Only 31 states have animals endangered only there,” the authors said.
To identify which of the threatened animals in those states were in the most dire circumstances, the site used the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s inventory of threatened species. Many of the most threatened animals on on the IUCN’s “Red List of Threatened Species” were labeled “critically endangered.”
We used this same approach to evaluate the threat level of endangered animals in the remaining 19 states, but in these cases animals may be listed as endangered in other states as well.