New Study Shows That Two-Thirds of Ocean Species are Unknown

New Wave Media

November 26, 2012

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A new study published this week estimates that of the one million species that live in the ocean, as many as two-thirds are unknown. Experts working on an international database have say the world that exists beneath the oceans surface is largely unknown. There are an amazing amount of things, especially in the ocean, that we don’t know in terms of biodiversity,” says Pohle, who spent a decade taking part in an international Census of Marine Life, a decade-long project than concluded in 2010. It was only last year that scientists published research that estimated there are approximately 10 million distinct species on Earth, Pohle said. “It’s staggering to think that, as recently as 2011, we did not know how many species there are in the world by order of magnitude. The estimates were anywhere from three to 100 million species globally. That was it,” Pohle says. “I’m somebody who works on this and when I saw it, I couldn’t believe it.” The article published in the academic journal Current Biology this week estimates there are one million marine species. A World Register of Marine Species has catalogued 226,000 of them so far. As many as 72,000 more specimens have been collected and are waiting to be described. “Knowing what lives in the ocean is fundamental to appreciate, care and protect it,” said Ward Appeltans, one of the authors and the project manager of the Ocean Biogeographic Information System of UNESCO’s intergovernmental oceanographic commission. “Having a single catalogue of all known marine species is like an index in a library. We can all start using the same species names, avoid confusion over names and make less mistakes.” The register will provide an invaluable base line for ocean life. “It is good, though, that there is increased interest in biodiversity,” Appeltans said. “We are now not only looking at the stars, but also what lives on our planet. We can no longer neglect how much we depend on the ecosystem services and how each species contributes to the functioning of our biosphere.”



Images: HawaiiNews/Deepseanews