Ocean Census Surprises Scientists

Effort to chart all undersea life by 2010 finds 5K new species

By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 10, 2008 10:32 AM CST

(Newser) – Somewhere under the Antarctic Ocean, brittle starfish completely cover a submerged mountain. In the Pacific, sharks congregate in a region with few food sources but plenty of opportunity for romance. Those facts, along with an accounting of more than 5,000 newly discovered species, are part of the results of the global effort to create a Census of Marine Life, USA Today reports.

“I would say we are in a second Golden Age of marine biology,” says a Venezuelan scientist who likens today’s discoveries to the work of Charles Darwin. The census represents an attempt to catalog all of the world's marine species by 2010—no small feat. Scientists estimate the oceans remain 95% unexplored.

Brightly colored coralline bryozoans and sponges, which forms the habitat for many species of marine life, are seen in Antarctic waters.   (AP Photo)
In this photo released by the Australian Antarctic Division, tunicates, an animal that looks like glass tulips, are seen in Antarctic waters in January 2008.   (AP Photo)
This photo, supplied by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, shows a young great white shark, with tag attached to its dorsal fin, swimming in Monterey Bay, Calif.   (AP Photo)
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Not to say someone won't pull up a giant squid from somewhere unexpected, but we think we are going to have a very good census. - Ronald O'Dor, the project's senior scientist

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