Friday, November 16, 2012

Most ocean species remain undiscovered

 New species of carnivorous sponge, Chondrocladia lyra from the deep-sea off California.
C. lyra is called the harp sponge because its basic structure, called a vane, is shaped like a harp or lyre.
Each vane consists of a horizontal branch supporting several parallel, vertical branches.

From OurAmazingPlanet

Scientists recently created a complete catalogue of all known marine life.
While 226,000 species have been described, there may hundreds of thousands more hidden in the deep.
While the ocean is still a vast unknown, scientists believe that most of the sea's undiscovered species will be found by the end of the century.

Up to a million species live in the seas, and two-thirds of those ocean-dwellers may still be undiscovered, according to a new study that also cataloged all of the known species that dwell beneath the waves.

Blue Sea SquirtCredit: WoRMS Photo Gallery / Paulay, Gustav, 2010
The bizarre Clavelina moluccensis, looks like a bouquet of iridescent slinkies. 
The blue sea squirt lives on dead coral from Australia to the Mariana Islands, and filters nutrients from water passing by.
The creature was first described in 1904.

The findings, published today (Nov. 15) in the journal Current Biology, suggest that the oceans remain a vast, uncharted territory.
The new registry could help guide marine conservation efforts by giving scientists a universal way to describe the underwater creatures.

Glowing jellyfishCredit: WoRMS Photo Gallery / Collins, Allen G., 2012
The stalked jellyfish Haliclystus californiensis lives between depths of 33 feet (10 meters) and 99 feet (30 m) below the waters off the California coast.
Unlike other members of its genus, the bright red sea creature has horseshoe-shaped anchors and prominent glandular pads on its outer tentacles.

"If you want to understand life on Earth, then of course you need to know what life there is on Earth," said the study's lead author, Ward Appeltans, a member of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
"If you want to protect the ocean you need to know what you want to protect."

Wavy Sea SlugCredit: WoRMS Photo Gallery / Paulay, Gustav, 2010
The sea slug Chromodoris kuniei ransoni lives in the islands off the remote archipelago in French Polynesia.
The species was first discovered in 1930.

Appeltans began assembling a European list of sea life in 1999. In 2007, his team decided to expand the effort to encompass all of the world's marine species.

Ubiquitous CrustaceanCredit: WoRMS Photo Gallery / Chan, Tin-Yam, 2010
This specimen of Crenarctus bicuspidatus was collected from shallow waters off Taiwan in 2010.
The crustacean, first discovered in 1905, inhabits oceans from South Africa all the way to Japan.
It is often found in shallow waters and prefers sandy seabeds littered with broken shells and dead coral.

It was a massive undertaking.
Appeltans and colleagues contacted more than 250 world experts on marine life to catalog all known species.
"When there's a child that's born you need to go to city hall and register the name of the baby, but when you create a new species the only thing you need to do is publish a paper in an official journal," Appeltans told OurAmazingPlanet.

Pelagic Sea HareCredit: WoRMS Photo Gallery / Paulay, Gustav, 2010
This colorful sea slug was first discovered in 1825 off the coast of New Guinea by French naturalists Joseph Paul Gaimard and Jean René Constant Quoy.
The Stylocheilus longicauda lives in warm waters amidst brown algae and rarely ventures close to shore.

As a result, many species names were duplicated.
"For every five species that were described, two were described before," he said.

So far, the team has cataloged 226,000 species, excluding marine bacteria.
Another 65,000 are waiting to be described in museums and collections.
By using a computer simulation, Appeltans and his team concluded that between 700,000 and 1 million species live in the sea.

Anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of sea life has not been discovered yet, by their estimate. Most of those hidden sea creatures are probably crustaceans, mollusks, worms and sea sponges, they said.

The new database, called the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), fulfills deep human curiosity, Appeltans said.
"It's in our nature that we want to know what exists on Earth," Appeltans said.
"We want to know what's out there in our oceans."

But beyond human curiosity, an orderly system for categorizing marine life may also help scientists conserve endangered species or keep track of medicinal chemicals derived from ocean dwellers, he said

Links :
  • DailyMail : The mysterious undersea creatures seen for the first time as researchers say a third of marine species are still unknown to science

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