The Census of Marine Life (CoML) involves 80 countries and 2000 researchers. The 2006 census led to the discovery of 500 previously unknown species of
marine life, including a giant 1-centimeter in diameter single-celled organism near Portugal. During the year's 19 ocean expeditions, researchers
confirmed that exploitation and habitat destruction already have depleted 90 percent of species important to man, and elimated 65 percent of seagrass
and wetland habitat. They also confirmed that species invasions have accelerated, and water quality has degraded between 10 to 1,000-fold.
Some 500 previously unknown species of marine life were discovered during the latest Census of Marine Life (CoML), a research effort involving some
2000 researchers from 80 countries. The discoveries, made during 19 ocean expeditions in 2006, included a gigantic 1-centimeter in diameter
single-celled organism in the Nazare Canyon off Portugal, a "blonde-haired" lobster near Easter Island, a "chewing" squid, and a four-pound (1.8 kg)
lobster off Madagascar.
While the census found hundreds of previously unknown species -- including 150 species of fish -- the researchers behind the project also found
evidence that marine biodiversity is in decline due to human influences.
According to a CoML news release, researchers "reconstructed the changing abundance of marine life in 12 estuaries and coastal seas around the world.
In archives from Roman times in the Adriatic Sea, the medieval era in Northern Europe, to Colonial times in North America and Australia, they
confirmed the fears that exploitation and habitat destruction depleted 90 percent of important species. They also confirmed elimination of 65 percent
of seagrass and wetland habitat, a 10 to 1,000-fold degradation of water quality, and accelerated species invasions.
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A single-celled organism that's 1-centimeter in diameter ?! Wow.
And the pictures are amazing, but I still have not found a pic of the amphipod, a crustacean that is supposed to be the "inspiration" for the movie
Also very interesting - "Jurassic shrimp" - supposedly extinct 50 million years ago - is alive and well in the Coral Sea. Properly named "neoglyphea
neocaledonica," this shrimp's discovery rivals the coelacanth find. Both coelacanth and Jurassic shrimp are prehistoric creatures, previously known
only through the fossil record.
I do wonder how many of these 'newly found' species are new mutations though.
However, the CoML research promises to make it possible to farm the earth's oceans sustainably. "...The new data reveal for the first time those zones
of the ocean where we have the highest leverage for conservation and thus smarter fishing," said D. James Baker, President of the Academy of Natural
Sciences of Philadelphia.
So even though much has been lost, hopefully we can use this knowledge to move forward.