Press Releases 2008

November 9, 2008

Scientists Report Major Steps

Towards 1st Census of Marine Life


Meeting in Spain, global crew shares progress towards historic Census in 2010;
Among revelations in fourth interim global highlights report:
Antarctic ancestry of many octopus species,
Behemoth bacteria, colossal sea stars, mammoth mollusks, more

The 2,000-strong community of Census of Marine Life scientists from 82 nations today announced astonishing examples of recent new finds from the world’s ocean depths.
As more than 700 delegates gather for the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity (Valencia, Spain Nov. 11-15), organized by the Census’s European affiliate program on Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning, the report details major progress towards the first ever marine life census, for release in October, 2010.  In Spain, renowned marine scientists will announce more new and surprising results daily throughout the event, to be opened with a news conference in Valencia Tues. Nov. 11.

Full press release (PDF)
Cover of Highlights Report (PDF, 656 KB)
Full Highlights Report
(PDF, 8.6 MB)
Highlights Report with live links
to press releases, photo galleries, video, etc. (PDF, 4.2 MB)

View image gallery        

Text Translations:
Spanish (PDF)
French  (PDF)     
Portuguese (PDF)   
Japanese  (PDF)   
Chinese  (PDF)  
Indonesian (PDF)    


September 18, 2008
Explorers Find Hundreds of
Undescribed Corals, Other Species
on Familiar Australian Reefs
Tongue-eating isopod parasites on fish among oddities found;
First systematic inventory of animals provides indispensable
baseline to judge whether they are living or perishing as pollution and warmth change famous reefs;
Artificial habitats left for colonization will help standardize reef
sampling worldwide

Hundreds of new kinds of animal species surprised international researchers systematically exploring waters off two islands on the Great Barrier Reef and a reef off northwestern Australia -- waters long familiar to divers.

The expeditions, affiliated with the global Census of Marine Life, help mark the International Year of the Reef and included the systematic scientific inventory of spectacular soft corals, named octocorals for the eight tentacles that fringe each polyp.

The explorers today released some initial results and stunning images from their landmark four-year effort to record the diversity of life in and around Australia's renowned reefs.

For more details view the full press release.


For more information about the expedition visit the CReefs website

June 25, 2008
How many fish (and other species) in the sea?
Validated List of Known Ocean
Species Surpasses 120,000, Over
Halfway to Goal of Complete
Inventory by October, 2010
World Register of Marine Species inaugurated with first 122,500 validated names;
Over 56,000 aliases for ocean species identified;
"Breadcrumb Sponge" reigns as marine champion of aliases with 56;
Census scientists estimate described marine species at 230,000 or more

Census of Marine Life-affiliated scientists ( consolidating world databases of ocean organisms have demoted to alias status almost one-third of all names culled from 34 regional and highly specialized inventories.

The new World Register of Marine Species ( contains about 122,500 validated marine species names (experts having recognized and tidied up some 56,400 aliases - 32% of all names reviewed). It also contains some 5,600 images, hyperlinks to taxonomic literature and other information.

Marking the World Register's official inauguration, some 55 researchers from 17 countries met in Belgium to plan its completion by 2010. Leading World Register experts independently estimate that about 230,000 marine species are known to science. They also believe there are three times as many unknown (unnamed) marine species as known, for a grand total on Earth that could surpass 1 million.


May 18, 2008
Explorers Marvel at "Brittlestar City"
Thriving on Seamount in Powerful
Current Swirling Around Antarctica
Millions of Starfish-like Creatures Catch Passing Food in 4 km/h Current;
Cod Shelter from "Rattling" Current in Folds of Huge Bubblegum Coral
Month-long Voyage Discovers Interactions Among
Biology, Geology, Physics Along Vast Submerged Mountain Range

Census of Marine Life-affiliated scientists, plumbing the secrets of a vast underwater mountain range south of New Zealand, captured the first images of a novel "Brittlestar City" that colonized against daunting odds the peak of a seamount - an underwater summit taller than the world's tallest building.

Its cramped starfish-like inhabitants, tens of millions living arm tip to arm tip, owe their success to the seamount's shape and to the swirling circumpolar current flowing over and around it at roughly four kilometers per hour. It allows Brittlestar City's underwater denizens to capture passing food simply by raising their arms, and it sweeps away fish and other hovering would-be predators.

Discovery of this marine metropolis, along with important new insights into seamount geology and physics, highlighted a month-long April expedition to survey the Macquarie Ridge aboard the Research Vessel Tangaroa of New Zealand's National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, host of the Census of Marine Life seamount programme, CenSeam. The voyage was largely funded by the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.