The Census of Marine Life, a comprehensive attempt to list every marine species, has released its latest findings from the depths of the seas. The group of scientists has now listed 17,650 species, with nearly 6,000 of those living in the deepest parts of the ocean.
We know less about the ocean floor than we do about the surface of the moon, so the CoML's project is very exciting. The decade-long project wraps up more than 200 expeditions in 2010 with what will be the world's first ocean census. This work is crucial because, like Oceana's Ranger expeditions, it illuminates unknown parts of the ocean and helps arm us with reasons to protect it.
"There is both a great lack of information about the 'abyss' and substantial misinformation," said Robert S. Carney, one of the project leaders, in a statement on the latest findings. "Many species live there. However, the abyss has long been viewed as a desert. Worse, it was viewed as a wasteland where few to no environmental impacts could be of any concern. 'Mine it, drill it, dispose into it, or fish it – what could possibly be impacted?' And, if there is an impact, the abyss is vast and best yet, hidden from sight."
Be sure to check out the latest photos from CoML. It's pretty cool stuff.