The ocean is home to a world of mysterious marine life that makes us curious about what lies beyond where a tank and fins can take us. How many sea critters have we never seen? What species are yet to be discovered? What sea life has disappeared and why have they become extinct?
These are the questions that the world’s first Census of Marine Life is attempting to answer. A network of scientists and researchers from more than 80 countries are close to completing the 10-year initiative to discover the ocean’s diversity, explain the distribution of species and remind us all of just how much life really does live under water. Their goal is lofty: create a comprehensive list of all the animals that live in the sea, including their estimated numbers and a map showing where they can be found. The project will help us understand what the future holds for species currently struggling to survive, and what impact our environment has on their fate. Researchers estimate that up to 5300 new species may have been discovered during this project, and there is exciting potential for all this new data to have a positive impact on the marine community. But not all discoveries were encouraging. Floating garbage patches in the middle of the ocean that trap and kill sea life are now the size of Africa, and an astounding 90% of the ocean’s top predators may have disappeared within the last 50 years. These, along with many other incredible findings, have the potential to change the way we see our oceans. So stay tuned to www.coml.org for updates on the project and info about the results when they are released later this year.