In the first global census of marine life, scientists find and catalog a quarter-million new species, thousands of them new -- and exotic and weird, from the vampire squid to the Darth Vader jellyfish.
Marine Census Finds Thousands of New and Weird Sea Creatures
PETER ALEXANDER reporting:
They are some of the newest discoveries from the deep, places less explored than anywhere else on Earth, as much art as science. These wondrous species are colorful, like the flamingo tongue snail; exotic, like the squid worm; and odd, like this underwater creature with tentacles and a string of stomachs. This first of its kind census of marine life is the product of a decade-long exploration: 2700 scientists, nearly a quarter million species, one amazing find after the next.
Unidentified Man: Scientists are loving it just like we are. Just the diversity of life, the richness of it, the connectedness of it. They're finding life in places in the deep ocean where they didn't think new species would exist, and still they're finding it.
ALEXANDER: This long-haired crab, so unusual it required a new family designation. The Darth Vader jellyfish, found in the Arctic more than a half-mile below. And the vampire squid, native to California's Monterey Bay. For scientists, this is just a starting point.
Unidentified Man: It's just the beginning; it's not the end. Scientists are going to use the tools they developed for this exploration and carry on the work for future decades. But based on this census, it's going to be a treat.
ALEXANDER: As one expert explained, this census is like exploring a dark house with a flashlight. Just wait till we turn on the lights. For TODAY, Peter Alexander, NBC News, New York.
Scientists have identified around 300,000 different marine species. Together, these make up about 15 percent of all known species on the planet. However, the sea is so vast that a million or more as yet unknown species might live in its waters. Most of these marine species are tied together through the food web.
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