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03 Aug 2010: As Many as 80 Percent of
Planet’s Marine Species Still Unknown

A 10-year inventory of marine life estimates that 60 to 80 percent of species in the world’s oceans remain undiscovered. Using information collected over centuries and new research in 25 biologically

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Dragonfish

Julian Finn/Museum Victoria
The deep-sea dragonfish
representative marine regions, the international Census of Marine Life documents an average of 10,000 known species in each region, including 1,200 new species. And based on how easily scientists are still finding new species, the census authors say the range of unknown species is probably staggeringly larger. Researchers hope the new inventory, published in 12 papers in the online journal PLoS ONE, will help guide future exploration of the world’s unexplored waters, especially at abyssal depths. According to the census, the waters of Australia and Japan represent the most biodiverse regions of the world, with nearly 33,000 known species each. The next most biodiverse regions are the oceans off China, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, which was examined before the BP oil spill.

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