Census for Marine Life

The Census for Marine Life will be like a publicly-available field guide to the oceans.  It’s the most comprehensive list of life in our oceans that has ever been produced.  The Census has taken 10 years, covers 25 ocean areas, and includes many previously unknown species.

orca whaleThe Census has found that flagship animals such as whales, seals and seabirds only make up about 2% of the known marine species in the 25 regions surveyed.  Crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters and shrimp account for nearly 20%.  The most common creatures, some of them one celled creatures, form the majority of animals and they are very important both in the ecosystem and in the food chain.  Even with the Census, it is estimated that we only know about 20% of the entire creatures in the ocean.

Sadly, the Census has also found that some of the top 5 most diverse ocean areas in our world are also among the most threatened.  These include the Mediterranean, China’s, and the Gulf of Mexico.  Most of the ocean is still both unexplored and unprotected.

There are 3 videos that I have watched and would recommend to someone interested in new life forms and our ocean’s inhabitants.

The first video is an introduction to the Census and is sensibly called Census Overview.  It’s among a selection of videos on the Census of Marine Life’s website

The second is called Record Breaking Sea Creatures Released,  and is filled with National Geographic’s splendid photography.   It’s number 4 of the featured videos on their website.

The third video is called Counting Creatures and is an interview with Dr. Jesse Ausebel of the Census.  It’s on the Census’ website.

I will be thinking about these life forms next time I look at our ocean!

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Alison Wheatley

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