One in every six species related to the characters in the film Finding Nemo is threatened by extinction, according to a new study released on Tuesday.
A team of marine scientists at the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Simon Fraser University have found that turtles and sharks are at most risk, with hunting and fishing proving the greatest threat.
"Putting Nemo in office aquariums, making soup out of Anchor the shark's fins and selling Sheldon the seahorse as curios has taken a toll," said lead author and NSF International postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University Loren McClenchan.
"Our research highlights how very little we know about any of these animals. It's unthinkable that the characters in Finding Nemo could become extinct, but this is the reality unless we pay more attention to the diversity of marine life."
Every species of marine turtle, more than half of all hammerhead sharks, mackerel sharks and eagle rays are threatened.
Seahorses are the most threatened group of bony fish, with two in five species at risk of extinction.
Shark specialist Nicholas Dulvy said that sharks and rays lacked sufficient protection against international trade, with less than one in ten threatened species protected by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species.
"For sharks and rays this is particularly concerning, as these species are highly vulnerable to overexploitation," he said.
The study revealed that there is still hope for threatened species through conservation programmes.
Co-author Kent Carpenter said that "we have the tools" to save species, but it will require coordinated conservation action.
"Charisma alone is not enough to ensure a species survival," he added.