Photo Gallery: Largest Marine Survey Ever Reveals Rich Life Under the Sea

Photo Gallery: Largest Marine Survey Ever Reveals Rich Life Under the Sea

Alisa Opar
Published: 10/04/2010
The leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus eques, is camouflaged to resemble a piece of drifting seaweed. Photo Credit: Karen Gowlett-Holmes
 
An enormous decade-long survey reveals that life in the world’s oceans is far richer and more interconnected than suspected. Some 2,700 scientists from 80 countries scoured the seas, from polar bays to tropical seas, from surface waters to deep-sea smokers, and today released the first global Census of Marine Life.
 
The mammoth exploration discovered a remarkable amount of life. For instance, there may be up to 1 billion types of marine microbes, and as many as 38,000 types in a typical liter of seawater.
 
The joint venture also shed light on the movements of larger animals. By tagging a 33-pound Pacific bluefin tuna (a species whose migration is somewhat mysterious), scientists saw that it crossed the Pacific three times in a mere 600 days, the AP reports. And researchers found puffins that make a nearly 40,000-mile circle every year from New Zealand to Japan, Russia, Alaska, Chile and back in what the census calls the "longest-ever electronically recorded migration.”
 
“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,” says Australian Ian Poiner, chair of the Census Steering Committee. “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.”
 
Here’s a look at some of those incredible creatures.
 
In October 2007, U. S. and Filipino scientists traveled to the Celebes Sea in Southeast Asia, searching for new species living in its deep water. When they discovered this extraordinary worm—which they named “Squidworm”—they knew they had something completely different. Photo Credit: Laurence Madin, WHOI
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A Fathead (Psychrolutes microporos) trawled during the NORFANZ expeditions at a depth between 1013m and 1340m, on the Norfolk Ridge, north-west of New Zealand, June 2003. Photo Credit: NORFANZ Founding Parties Photographer Kerryn Parkingson; additional thanks to Peter McMillan and Andrew Stewart
 
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Sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens), Monterey Bay California, USA. Photo Credit: Richard Hermann- Galatée films
 
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Flamingo tongue snail, Cyphoma gibbosum, was photographed near Grand Cayman, British West Indies, and is listed in the Gulf of Mexico biodiversity inventory. Photo Credit: Kacy Moody
 
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Marrus orthocanna, a physonect siphonophore, photographed during NOAA’s Hidden Ocean Expedition. The colonial animal is made up of many repeated units, which include tentacles, and multiple stomachs. Many specimens were observed between 300 and 1500 meters deep. Photo Credit: Kevin Raskoff
 
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The Antarctic ice fish has no red blood pigments (hemoglobin) and no red blood cells. This is an adaptation to the low temperature. The blood becomes more fluid, as a consequence, the animal saves energy to pump blood through its body. Interestingly the brittle stars are overgrown by a yellow sponge. Photo Credit: J. Gutt AWI/Marum, Univ. of Bremen Germany
 
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South of Easter Island, Census vent explorers discovered a crab so unusual it warranted a whole new family designation, Kiwidae. Beyond adding a new family to the wealth of known biodiversity, its discovery added a new genus, Kiwa, named for the mythological Polynesian goddess of shellfish. Its furry or hairy appearance justified its species name, hirsuta. Photo Credit: Ifremer, A.Fifis, 2006
 
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Sand fleas (amphipod crustaceans) under nearshore ice in the Beaufort Sea. Ice-associated amphipods are a major food source for Arctic cod, in turn the main prey for ice seals. Photo Credit: Shawn Harper, University of Alaska Fairbanks
 
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The final diving lessons for this young Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii). It is the size of his mother who is waiting under the water. He will very soon be independent. Photo Credit: Galatée Films
 
See more photos on the Consensus of Marine Life website.
 
And if you're interested in seeing animals in action, check out our picks for the Top 10 Wildlife Web Cams.