Ocean Census to Discover 100,000+ Marine Species
Ocean Census, the largest program in history to discover life in the ocean, has been launched, with an ambitious target of finding at least 100,000 new marine species in the first decade. Knowledge gathered will revolutionize our understanding of life on Earth and how to protect the ocean.
Scientists believe little more than 10 percent of what lives in our seas has been found, and there are about 2 million species still undiscovered. The endeavor builds on previous major programs, including the Challenger Expeditions (1872 to 1876, the birth of modern marine science) and the Census of Marine Life (2000 to 2010).
Ocean Census is a global collaborative initiative; an open network of science, business, media and civil society organizations joining forces. It has been founded by The Nippon Foundation, the largest nonprofit in Japan that focuses on philanthropy through social innovation, and Nekton, a U.K.-based marine science and conservation institute. The aggregated, open-source data will from the project will be added to a network of data centers globally and made freely accessible to scientists, decision makers, and the public.
Over the coming years, scientists from around the world will embark on dozens of expeditions to the ocean’s biodiversity hotspots to find new life from the surface to full ocean depth. Combining vessels from the philanthropic, government and commercial fleets, they will be deploying a combination of advanced subsea technologies with divers, submarines and deep-sea robots.
Species discovered on expeditions will be sent for high-resolution imaging and DNA sequencing to biodiversity centers to be established in nations around the world. Networks of taxonomists will connect virtually to complete species descriptions.