How many fish (and other species) in the sea?
The new World Register of Marine Species contains about 122,500 validated marine species names (experts having recognized and tidied up s
Marking the World Register’s official inauguration, s
“Convincing warnings about declining fish and other marine species must rest on a valid census,” says Dr. Mark Costello of the
Popularly called Breadcrumb Sponge, Halichondria panicea is the marine world’s reigning champion of Latin aliases, with 56 synonyms appearing in taxon
No researcher’s work is spared – not even Carl Linnaeus, who in the 1750s overcame an international scientific
However, over time it emerged that Linnaeus assigned four names to the same species of sperm whale, a mistake caught years ago but which still appears in world literature and databases. The World Register will clarify for all time the valid name for that whale and all other marine species for future researchers, census takers and educators alike.
Says Philippe Bouchet, a CoML scientist involved in the World Register: “Describing species without a universal register in place is like setting up a library without an index catalog.”
Discovery outstrips description capacity
CoML and other explorers are finding unknown species at a rate much faster than the capacity to describe them due to a shortage of experts. Dr. Bouchet calculates that 3,800 taxon
The global scale cooperation underway by the CoML and the World Register is a prerequisite for the more time and cost-efficient discovery and recording of ocean-dwelling species. So too are new technologies for sampling, image capture, data management, genetic analyses (e.g. DNA barcodes), new training programs for taxon
Hosted by the Flanders Marine Institute,
And it will serve as the taxon
The World Register will also contribute to several related global biodiversity enterprises, including the Encyclopedia of Life (creating a webpage for every species), and Species2000 (assembling a list of valid names for the 1.8 million or so known animals, plants, and fungi, both marine and terrestrial).
“Modern technologies allow unprecedented global collaboration to consolidate, validate and advance more than 250 years of research into the diverse species that live beneath the waves,” says Dr. Edward Vanden Berghe, who heads OBIS at
How many species in the sea?
“Decisions about the last few thousand species to be included could be difficult, as s
The database has yet to reflect massive discovery efforts underway by CoML collaborators. Preliminary CoML estimates show many thousands of suspected new marine life species have been discovered in the first eight years of explorations, 110 of which have c
The CoML is the largest-ever global marine biology research project, uniting researchers fr
Started in 2000, s
In isolated parts of the world, such as the deep-sea, the tropics, and the Southern Ocean swirling around
“Discovering a species never known to science before is one of the great prizes of marine research,” says Ian Poiner, Australia-based chair of CoML’s Scientific Steering C
“For years to c
“What may appear a simple task on the surface is in fact two-fold: the names of every known species have first to be validated, and the register must also simultaneously try to keep pace with new discoveries,” says World Register data manager Ward Appeltans of the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), noting that one expert representing each taxon
“The fact that every year scientists still find more than 100 new marine fish species in the sea is astonishing,” he adds. “While we are looking up to search for life on Mars, there is still so much beauty to discover at our feet.”