Beauty and the Beast

Recent studies of marine life have shown both the wonders and likely horrors that are facing our oceans. The Census of Marine Life is a decade-long global study examining the diversity of marine life from polar to tropical regions and involves thousands of marine scientists from many countries. Although the full report is due the end of this year, some preliminary findings have been released. Over 5,000 new species have been discovered and research suggests that many thousands of additional species are lurking somewhere in the briny depths. New species range from hairy crabs to sponges that contain anti-cancer drugs.

Small coral reef halfway between Australia and Papua New Guinea

But as we gain a greater understanding of the diversity of marine life, growing evidence indicates that many species will likely disappear in the near future. Coral reefs, for example, are one the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, home to thousands of species of fish, corals, sponges and worms. Coral reefs are built from the calcareous skeletons of corals and algae, which are expected to disintegrate by the end of this century due to high levels of CO2. (As oceans absorb CO2, they become so acidic this calcareous framework dissolves.) If, or when, this happens many thousands of species that live on corals reefs will also disappear.

Large parrotfish feeding on a coral reef

To see the incredible amount of life that (currently) lives in our oceans, click on the following link:

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