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750,000 undiscovered Ocean species
London, Oct 4 (IANS):
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Published on 4 Oct. 2010 11:01 PM IST
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The oceans are bustling with far greater diversity of life than previously thought, says the first Census of Marine Life -- 10 years in the making. It will reveal that almost 250,000 have now been identified, while predicting there may be at least 750,000 more still waiting to be discovered in the ocean depths. Giant sea spiders the size of dinner plates. Wriggly creatures nicknamed ‘Squidworms’ because of their strange-looking tentacles. A blind lobster whose Latin name means ‘terrible claw’.
These are among the new types of animals discovered in the most ambitious-ever survey of the world’s oceans, which concludes Monday with the publication of the first Census of Marine Life. The report marks the first attempt to provide a definitive record of all the species of plants and animals living in the sea, reports the Telegraph. Yet, despite this great diversity of life, the report will warn that humans are having a devastating impact on the numbers of many species through fishing and pollution.
More than 2,700 scientists have helped to compile the Marine Census, with more than 540 expeditions to visit all of the world’s oceans.
Among the new species discovered are Dinochelus ausubeli, the blind lobster with a long, spiny pincer, which was found 300 metres below the surface in the Philippine Sea.
Sea spiders, a family of eight-legged creatures which rarely grow bigger than a fingernail in Britain waters, have been discovered up to nine inches across in Antarctic seas. The deep sea floor, previously thought to be an almost lifeless desert due to the huge pressure, pitch black conditions and cold water found at depths greater than 6,000 feet, has provided some of the biggest surprises.
Maria Baker, a researcher at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton Britain and a project manager on the census, said: “Life is much more widespread on the ocean floor than was thought.”

 
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