Census Aims to Catalog World's Oceans

A worldwide effort is under way to perform a census of the world's oceans, pulling information about species from around the world into one location. The project, known as the Census of Marine Life, now has 122,500 different species on its tally — after cleaning up over 56,000 scientific names that were really just aliases for other organisms.

The project, which is about halfway done, aims to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine life on the planet — but that's a tall order, with scientists estimating that there may be three times as many species yet to be discovered as have already been described in the scientific literature. National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence Sylvia Earle checks in on the progress of the project.

Information from the project is being published in the World Register of Marine Species, an online encyclopedia of photos and information about all known marine species.

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