The Beacon

The Underwater Census

It's a tough job naming every species in the sea, but somebody's gotta do it. More specifically, the Census of Marine Life. It's an effort to catalog all species of life in the oceans, and has validated 122,500 species names so far, as well as 56,400 aliases that have been applied to the same species over the years.

One species, Halichondria panicea, or the breadcrumb sponge, has been given 56 names in the scientific literature since it was first named in 1766, according to researchers. Poor thing's been in a perpetual state of identity crisis.

The census will provide researchers with a clearer idea of species populations and ultimately, a better understanding for conservation efforts. But with researchers cataloging around 1,400 new marine species each year, experts say it will take more than five centuries to complete the total list. Good luck with that, guys.


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