A free-swimming robot submarine manoeuvring beneath sea ice in Eastern Antarctica (Photo : Reuters)
At times the vast, deep ocean appears endless, filled with unknown creatures that we can only imagine in the recesses of our imagination.
A new study published in Current Biology introduces metrics into the equation and frames the spectrum of undiscovered marine life in a way that allows scientists to further understand the depth of Earth's species catalog, according to a Discovery News report.
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Marine Biologist and lead researcher Ward Appeltans says, "it may not be mission impossible to describe all the marine species in the ocean. We are describing 2,000 marine species every year. If we can keep that momentum, we can start knowing exactly what's living on our planet."
Appletans and his team concluded the amount of undiscovered marine species ranges from 482,000 to 741,000, compared to the 226,000 known organisms.
Duke University conservation biologist Stuart Pimm states, "We know we're losing biodiversity at a rate that is 1,000 times faster than we should be, and if we're going to stop that hemorrhaging of species, we have to know what the species are and most important, when they are. This is a vital first step in making decisions about where to act."
He adds, "The question of how many species there are is such a fundamental one and it's a huge embarrassment that we don't have the answer. In a compelling way, this paper has come up with a fairly credible number for how much we know and don't know."
While it may be decades until we discover the majority of underwater species, we now we have parameters to work with.