A major threat to wildlife is posed by the intentional destruction of their habitats. Animal agriculture turns hundreds of acres of forest, wetlands, and other habitats into grazing and croplands to feed farm animals.
Eating animals takes an equally devastating toll on sea wildlife, where bottom trawlers literally scrape the ocean floor clean of life, causing bottom trawling to be considered the underwater equivalent of clear-cutting forests by some. “Advances” in bottom trawling technology have dramatically expanded the range of the operations, killing fish and other animals who had previously been protected by their rocky habitats. Consequently, bottom trawling is one of the most environmentally damaging fishing techniques, killing animals and destroying endangered coral and other sea life.
Other methods of capturing sea life contribute to the problem, when sharks, sea turtles, birds, seals, whales, and other nontarget fish who get tangled in nets and hooked by long-lines are termed “bycatch” and are thrown overboard. They fall victim to swarming birds or slowly bleed to death in the water. Scientists have found that nearly 1,000 marine mammals—dolphins, whales, and porpoises—die each day after they are caught in fishing nets. By some estimates, shrimp trawlers discard as much as 85 percent of their catch, making shrimp arguably the most environmentally destructive sea food a person can consume.