Tuesday, November 23, 2004

More fishes in the sea

The BBC reports findings from the Census of Marine Life:

Some 13,000 new marine species have been discovered in the past year, according to information released by an international alliance of scientists.

The Census of Marine Life (COML) has also uncovered previously unknown migration routes used by fish such as tuna and shark…

The project's Ocean Biographic Information System database now includes more than 5.2 million new and previously existing records of the location, date and depth at which a marine species was found - a rise of 1.1 million entries.

The current total of marine fish species now stands at 15,482. Experts expect the final count to total roughly 20,000 by the time the COML is completed in 2010.

Fish biomass is dwarfed by that of microscopic life forms. The database now includes more than 6,800 species of zooplankton, tiny animals that drift with the currents.

Microbes, the smallest organisms, astonishingly account for more than 90% of ocean biomass.

[A scientist tells the BBC]

“ the big discovery is that 90% of all the carbon that's taken up in life in the oceans is taken up in microbes, and a large number of those may be in the deep-ocean sediments buried beneath the sea floor".

All fascinating, but this last point, on carbon uptake, is not exactly news.

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