Marine census leads to discovery of more than 200 new species
London, Nov 10 (ANI): The first global marine-life census has led to the discovery of more than 200 new marine species, including giant sea stars that can grow up to 60cm across.
According to a report in Nature News, the findings, which come from the 2,000-strong international marine-scientist team, will be released at the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Valencia, Spain on November 11-15.
Other new species discovered include a type of giant bacteria living in the eastern South Pacific that can grow several centimeters long.
The researchers said that the bacteria could be "living fossils" that developed in the earliest ocean when oxygen was either absent or much diminished, living on hydrogen sulphide.
They suggest that communities of these bacteria could be used to help clean up pollution or waste.
The census has documented novel fish behaviors, such as the deep-sea diving habits of the great white shark, and has revealed new ocean habitats as well.
Great white sharks can migrate long distances to live out the winter in the Pacific for up to six months.
Using satellite tagging, marine scientists discovered that during their stay in the Pacific, both male and female sharks make frequent dives to depths of 300 metres.
The researchers hypothesize that the dives may be important for feeding or reproduction.
Research findings from the census to be revealed at the conference also include evidence of the evolutionary origins of a large proportion of the world's deep-sea octopus species.
The census aims to map the distribution, diversity and abundance of marine species, including a complete list of up to 250,000 named species.
It also aims to provide a fresh estimate of the number of species yet to be discovered, for which current estimates vary widely from 500,000 to several million.
It will provide global traffic patterns of common marine species, and document DNA barcodes to identify many species.
Work began in 2000, and will not be complete until 2010.
According to Ian Poiner, chairman of the census' scientific steering committee, "The release of the first census in 2010 will be a milestone in science. After 10 years of new global research and information assembly by thousands of experts, it will synthesize what humankind knows about the oceans, what we don't know and what we may never know." (ANI)
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