Only a fraction of the Oceans have been explored. Scientists have discovered only 10% of marine life. Creatures of all shapes and sizes are being discovered on a daily basis. Four new species are found each day.
The World Register of Marine Species has records of 228,000 species on their books so far, estimated to grow to two million as our knowledge of the oceans grows.
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Some of the research could be helpful as a measuring tool, for conservation purposes, by first categorizing and naming the New Species, before measuring their rate of extinction – either through evolution or pollution. Some more of the research could be helpful in finding new drugs to fight cancer.
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Dr Jan Mees, of the Flanders Marine Institute in Belgium and co-chairman of the marine register programme, said: ‘It is humbling to realise that humankind has encountered and described only a fraction of our oceanic kin, perhaps as little as 11 per cent. ‘The main gap at the moment is because of the under-exploration of the oceans. ‘There are many, many places we have never been.’ But he added: ‘Sadly, we fear, many species will almost certainly disappear due to changing maritime conditions – especially warming, pollution and acidification – before we’ve had a chance to meet.’ ‘The knowledge is vital for conservation efforts. ‘Without knowing what species are there, we have no way of knowing what is at risk.’ Some discoveries have significant benefits.
Certain varieties of sea sponges, for example, have yielded valuable cancer-fighting agents.
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