Biggest Marine Life survey: Most Ocean Life Is Unknown

Deep-Sea Jellyfish

The planet's seas and oceans are richer and more different than scientists suspected, the biggest survey of marine life has revealed -- but many mysteries remain.

The Census of Marine Life, which announced its full findings Monday, has taken 10 years to complete, employing 2,700 scientists from 80 nations. The $650 million study surveyed from the coldest waters to the warmest lagoons, from the smallest microbes to the largest cetaceans.

Brittle Stars
, Medusalae Larvae

The census also explored some strange sights during its 10 years, including what scientists labeled a "White Shark Cafe" and a "sturgeon playground" in the Pacific as well as giant bacteria and mollusks.

In August scientists working on the census exposed that the richest waters for marine life are around Australia and Japan; and that crustaceans are the largest group populating the seas, making up around one-fifth of sea life.

Scientists estimate that there are more than 1 million marine species but only about 250,000 have been officially described in scientific literature over the centuries. Those figures rule out microbes -- of which the census estimate there is up to 1 billion kinds.

Deep Sea Jelly Fish ,Cliona Limacina

The census also collated information on the 16,764 species of fish that have ever been described -- but estimates that a further 5,000 have yet to be revealed.

The amount of marine life yet to be meticulous varies wildly by region. The census estimates only 10 percent is yet to be found in European waters - but that figure rises to 75 percent for the deeper waters of the Mediterranean and 80 percent for the seas around Australia.

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