A really exciting piece of news has come out this month to do with the Census of Marine Life. This has been a decade long, worldwide, project to catalogue life in the oceans, and the final results will be released on the 4th October this year.
This week, an initial ‘roll call’ of what species are present in the 25 marine areas of the census has been published in the journal PLoS One.
The diversity and distribution of species in areas such as Antarctica, the Mediterranean, the Humboldt current and the Indian Ocean (to name just a few of the areas) were estimated using known literature and published and unpublished data.
Australian and Japanese waters came out as the most biodiverse and the most abundant group of animals was the crustaceans, which made up almost a fifth of all known species across all the regions, followed by molluscs with 17% and fish at 12%.
The category of ‘other vertebrates’ which includes all whales, dolphins, sea birds, seals and turtles, only came in at 2% of all species – a prime example of how the best-known species may only form a small portion of the diversity.
This inventory has been a really important part of the Census project, because it not only tells us some interesting information about what lives where, but also provides a baseline for measuring changes in the diversity and distribution in response to changes and threats posed by humans.