After a decade of work and exploration the first inventory of species distribution and diversity in the world’s oceans has been published. Carried out by 2 700 scientists from 80 countries and with over 540 expeditions, the “Census of Marine Life” creates a baseline by which future changes to the oceans can be measured.
Jesse Ausubel of the USA, Census Co-founder and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Program Director: “The Census encountered an ocean growing more crowded with commerce and transparent through technology. Setting out to draw baselines of the diversity, distribution, and abundance of species, the first Census of Marine Life documented a changing ocean, richer in diversity, more connected through distribution and movements, more impacted by humans, and yet less explored than we had known.”
The Census estimated there to be over 1 million species in the ocean, but with three quarters awaiting discovery. The scientists identified 1 200 new species, but the total is likely to rise as 5 000 more organisms collected have yet to be studied. A key outcome of the study is a database of 120,000 identified ocean species.
The research also studied threats to the world’s oceans and found that fishing and exploitation were the biggest problems.
The results of the Census are released as maps, three books and highlights summary.
See Census of Marine Life website for more information and results.