A group of scientists have embarked on a decade-long mission to discover sea creatures that have never been known to man. The mission, Ocean Census, is expected to have identified at least 100,000 unknown marine life at the end of ten years.
The researchers believe the result of the ‘census’ would help man better understand ocean life. They also hope that the findings will help sustain the ocean, which would be beneficial to all.
“We need to discover and protect ocean life to sustain and benefit all life on Earth, for generations to come,” Ocean Census stated on its website.
To successfully achieve its goals and objectives, the group of experts have developed advanced technologies for the speedy discovery of the species underwater.
Before now, it takes at least one year for scientists to thoroughly describe a species after its discovery. However, with the new underwater laser scanning, creatures could be discovered and properly described in a short time.
“You can now look at (the creature) in the water column and see what the morphology is and study them in situ,” said Jyotika Virmani, an expert on ocean life, stated.
“What we’re moving towards is a place where we can actually perhaps even do taxonomic identification in the water column instead of bringing everything back to land. And that’s really exciting and will make things move a lot faster,” he added.
Marine biologist Alex Rogers, the project’s science director and a professor of conservation biology at Oxford, said he is expecting good results at the end of ten years.
“I would hope by the end of 10 years we would have made some incredible scientific discoveries, maybe completely new ecosystems,” Rogers said at the launch of the project.
Why the project is important
It is believed that there are at least 2 million creatures under the water. However, scientists have discovered as little as 240,000 of them, which is about ten per cent.
Adding about 100,000 species to the list would be a great achievement, even though there is still a long way to go.