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    « Beijing Fails To Bully The Nobel Peace Committee | Main | Pervez Musharraf Admits & Defends Training Kashmiri Militants To Fight Against Indian Forces »
    Tuesday
    Oct052010

    Census Of Marine Life: A Decade Of Scientific International Research

    The Census of Marine Life (COML) is the result of a massive international collaboration that included a decade long research into the world's marine life, by 2,700 scientists from 80+ nations, which included some 540 expedition missions. The $650 million project was the first ever to study in depth the diversity and the distribution of the abundant marine life. The findings of their research were released yesterday, in the form of the most comprehensive inventory of the global marine life.

    Here're some excerpts from the COML report:  

    • The Census encountered an unanticipated riot of species, which are the currency of diversity. It upped the estimate of known marine species from about 230,000 to nearly 250,000. Among the millions of specimens collected in both familiar and seldom-explored waters, the Census found more than 6,000 potentially new species and completed formal descriptions of more than 1,200 of them. It found that rare species are common. 
    • The Census found living creatures everywhere it looked, even where heat would melt lead, seawater froze to ice, and light and oxygen were lacking. It expanded known habitats and ranges in which life is known to exist. It found that in marine habitats, extreme is normal.   
    • With sound, satellites, and electronics, some- times carried by marine life itself, the Census tracking of thousands of animals mapped migratory routes of scores of species and charted their meeting places and blue highways across the interconnected ocean. 
    • In deep water and on the deep-sea floor, the Census discovered patterns of life on ridges, seamounts, abyssal plains, and the margins of continents and defined new provinces and classifications. The same Census data reveal where explorers have not yet looked, the unknown ocean. For more than 20 percent of the oceanʼs volume, the Census database still has no records at all, and for vast areas very few. 
    • With sound, the Census observed tens of millions of fishes assembling swiftly and swimming in coordinated schools as large as Manhattan island, and also saw hosts of animals commuting at regular hours, moving back and forth to the surface from hundreds of meters below.  
    • The Census affirmed that by weight most marine life is microbial, up to 90 percent. The weight of Earthʼs marine microbes equaled about 35 elephants for every living person.  
    • Analyzing indirect observations from oceangoing vessels since 1899, Census researchers discovered that the food-producing phytoplankton near the surface has declined, globally. While patchy evidence from the phytoplankton near the bottom of the food chain and more extensive evidence from large animals at the top of the food chain suggest decline, whether the total weight of life in the ocean is changing remains unknown. 
    • The Census showed that we know less about the small than the large and that generally knowledge is inversely related to size. The Census encountered an ocean growing more crowded with commerce and transparent through technology.   

    Here's a really cool short video from the National Geographic about the COML(video is 3min 27 sec long):

    ~ Gauri 

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