Juan Fernández Islands: Species at Risk

Orange Roughy

Also known as the slimehead, the Orange Roughy  is actually bright red with a blue belly while it’s alive. The fish can live more than 100 years and grows very slowly, staying very still in deep waters off the coast of Chile and New Zealand in the Pacific and from Iceland to South Africa in the Atlantic.

Orange roughy are primarily caught with bottom trawling, which damage the seafloor and catch any species in their path. Populations of the fish have been wiped out by overfishing and may take decades to recover.

Juan Fernández Fur Seal

The Juan Fernández fur seal is the second smallest of the pinnipeds after the Galapagos fur seal. Discovered by navigator Juan Fernández in the sixteenth century, the seals were targeted for their pelts, blubber and meat.

As a result, the species was thought extinct mid-way through the twentieth century until a population of 200 was found in 1965. In 1978, the species was given total protection by national Chilean legislation and there are now believed to be at least 10,000 animals on and around the island.

The seal is threatened by entanglement in fishing gear and plastic debris and is listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List.