It’s a beauty, just five centimetres long, and it’s under threat: this is the Banggai cardinalfish. This little creature has been classified as “critically endangered” by the IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List since 2007.
In the last ten years, its population has declined even more dramatically – essentially because it is one of the most popular-selling ornamental marine fish ever. It was only re-discovered during the 1990s. Since then, 90 per cent of its wild population has been fished-out for the aquarium industry.
Whole areas of their range have already been wiped out. An estimated 500,000 are caught each year, only to waste away in aquariums. The Banggai cardinalfish is a sedentary creature that lives in small shoals, inhabiting shallow lagoons in an area spanning just 23 square kilometres ‒ making easy pickings for fishermen.