The long-awaited release of the first ever Census of Marine Life took place last week.
At a Press conference at the Royal Institution the results of the 10 year long study which has involved 2,700 scientists from 80 nations were revealed.
The study which has involved over 540 expeditions and 9,000 days at sea has been marked by the release of three landmark books, maps, films, websites, databases and a highlight summary. Over the decade more than 2,600 academic papers were published – one, on average, every 1.5 days.
The team presented an unprecedented picture of the diversity, distribution, and abundance of all kinds of marine life in Planet Ocean - from microbes to whales, from the icy poles to the warm tropics, from tidal near shores to the deepest dark depths.
Part of the study includes a database of ocean diversity known as the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), which includes locations and identities of nearly 30 million observations of 120,000 species.
Ian Poiner, chair of the Census Steering Committee said: "This cooperative international 21st century voyage has systematically defined for the first time both the known and the vast unknown, unexplored ocean."
According to Dr. Poiner, the beauty, wonder, and importance of marine life are hard to overstate. "All surface life depends on life inside and beneath the oceans. Sea life provides half of our oxygen and a lot of our food and regulates climate. We are all citizens of the sea. And while much remains unknown, including at least 750,000 undiscovered species and their roles, we are better acquainted now with our fellow travelers and their vast habitat on this globe."
The study will be used as a baseline for future work on the biodiversity of the ocean.
PFK was lucky enough to be invited to attend the press conference for the launch of COML and will be reporting further in the magazine in future.