Ten-year global study estimates that 60–80% of marine species remain to be discovered

A 10-year, 2,700-scientist effort to find and record marine life estimates that 60 to 80 percent of sea species remain undiscovered.

The international Census of Marine Life has so far described 1,200 new species, with more on the way. And census scientists have tallied an average of 10,000 known marine species in each of 25 important ocean zones. The census was big, but the message emerging from 12 new papers in PLoS ONE: Ocean life is staggeringly bigger.

Based on the ease with which scientists are still finding new species, researchers suggest that much of the oceans’ diversity remains unknown.

“There is a lot more to do, but most of the big stuff is known,” says Ron O’Dor of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, who served as senior scientist for the census.

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