Friday, August 06, 2010

Full ocean census still elusive

After ten years of work, the Census of Marine Life reports that - well, it's not done. Everywhere scientists have looked there are more new species, and sometimes they go back to presumably explored places and find yet more. As Dr. Sylvia Earle (who has the wonderful title of explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society), puts it, "A conservative estimate of ocean species is 10 million, and it may be 50 million or more. Less than five percent of the ocean has been seen, let alone explored." Of the species found already, it will take, by one estimate, 200 YEARS at the current level of effort just to publish formal descriptions. (A DNA barcoding system has been applied to more rapidly catalogue the specimens for now.)

1 comment:

DK said...

That's a lot of species...