Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Global marine life census charts vast world beneath the seas

Great article! The final frontier truly lies beneath the water fellow citizens of the sea.

LONDON (AFP) – Results of the first ever global marine life census were unveiled Monday, revealing a startling overview after a decade-long trawl through the murky depths.
The Census of Marine Life estimated there are more than one million species in the oceans, with at least three-quarters of them yet to be discovered.

The study said it offered "an unprecedented picture of the diversity, distribution and abundance of all kinds of marine life in Planet Ocean -- from microbes to whales, from the icy poles to the warm tropics, from the tidal near shores to the deepest dark depths. "The research involved more than 2,700 scientists, 670 institutions, more than 540 expeditions and around 9,000 days at sea. Nearly 30 million observations of 120,000 species were made.

The census said 16,764 species of fish had so far been described, but an estimated 5,000 more were yet to be discovered. Scientists found some species thought extinct 50 million years ago, while other finds were less encouraging. Around 40 percent of plankton, at the bottom of the ocean food chain, has disappeared in the last 30 years, which was put down to a rise in ocean temperatures. Sharks have disappeared from 99 percent of some areas.

Australian Ian Poiner, chair of the census steering committee, said the researchers "systematically defined for the first time both the known and the vast unknown, unexplored ocean". "All surface life depends on life inside and beneath the oceans. Sea life provides half of our oxygen and a lot of our food and regulates climate. We are all citizens of the sea," he said.
"While much remains unknown, including at least 750,000 undiscovered species and their roles, we are better acquainted now with our fellow travellers and their vast habitat on this globe."

1 comment:

  1. In terms of number and variety of species, Indonesian seascape has it all. This is probably the biggest and the richest "marine species factory" in the world.