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February 14, 2013

Unidentified species: Help us help them

BY: Angela Pauly



Here’s a challenge to all you marine biologists out there: want to help us identify some of the species we’ve found during our expeditions?

Every year, after spending months poring over and analyzing the photos and videos from our expeditions, we find ourselves with a small amount of species that we can’t identify. This is where you come in. We’ve put together a Flickr album with a few of the species that we’ve been unable to identify. They may be completely unknown, or they may simply be rare. If you are a marine biologist, or know one, have a look, share it and let us know!

Discovering the presence of unknown, threatened or endangered species in certain areas gives us the leverage we need to push through with our marine protected area proposals. Often, EU Member States are required by law to protect certain species, but if they don’t know they are there, how can they go about it? That’s why our expeditions to little known areas, most recently to seamounts in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic (the Gorringe Bank), are so important.

So much of the ocean is unknown. The incredible Census of Marine Life concluded that there are hundreds of thousands of species of flora and fauna that have yet to be discovered or identified in our oceans. Given the amount of discards that occur, the destructive fishing methods that sometimes scrape away the entire sea floor, the overfishing, the shifting climates and ocean acidification, one cannot help but wonder whether we’ll have time to do so, before we lose what we never even knew we had.

We’d love your help!