by | Oct 12, 2023 | 0 comments

Saving the unknown: Ocean Genome Legacy joins forces with Ocean Census to document the ocean’s taxonomic dark matter

Did you know that 75–90% of the estimated 1–2 million species living in the world’s ocean remain undiscovered and undescribed? Together, these species constitute the ocean’s taxonomic dark matter—the critical portion of life’s diversity hidden beneath the waves. To understand how the ocean works and what we can do to protect it, we first need to understand these missing species.  

However, taxonomy—the science of naming and describing species—is notoriously slow. In fact, it currently takes about 13.5 years on average for newly discovered species to be named and described! This is because much of taxonomy still relies on methods established in the 18th and 19th centuries. These traditional practices could not have anticipated and do not fully embrace recent advances in DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, 3D imaging, internet connectivity, and artificial intelligence.  

OGL is thrilled become a founding member of Ocean Census, an international scientific consortium dedicated to the discovery, taxonomic identification, and protection of marine species.

To tackle this massive problem, the Ocean Genome Legacy Center (OGL) is excited to announce a new partnership with Ocean Census, an international scientific consortium dedicated to the discovery, taxonomic identification, and protection of novel marine species. Coordinated by the Nippon Foundation and Nekton, the aim of the Ocean Census is to develop and implement strategies and advanced technologies to accelerate ocean species discovery, to halt the ocean biodiversity crisis, and to meet societal needs for sustainable development. 

“Marine species discovery and description are essential because we cannot protect what we do not know and understand.”

—Dan Distel

As one of the advisors and founding members of the Ocean Census, OGL will cooperate with other members and member organizations to identify, describe, and document new marine species, including those discovered on Ocean Census-aligned cruises and research expeditions. Through this collective international effort, OGL and its Ocean Census partners hope to shed new light and bring new hope for the ocean’s undiscovered diversity.

Stay tuned for more news on the OGL—Ocean Census partnership! 

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