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Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Census of Marine Life reports after 10 years of exploration.

Spiny crab

During the past 10 years, deep ocean Southampton scientists have contributed to the Census of Marine Life report, which was published in London this week (4 October).

This comprehensive study of life in the oceans has brought together scientists from around the world in a collaborative effort to detail marine life in the oceans – from the smallest microbe to the largest whale, from surface waters to a deep abyss and from short-lived plankton to 6,000 year-old sea fans.

The first census shows that life in the ocean is richer, more connected and more impacted than ever expected. Some 2,700 scientists from over 80 institutes have been working together to build a baseline of the status of our seas.

The National Oceanography Centre has played a significant role with research into the deep ocean – particularly the deep abyssal plains, continental margins, seamounts, hydrothermal vents and the mid-Atlantic ridge. Dr David Billett and Professor Paul Tyler have led several Census of Marine Life expeditions. They are both Census of Marine Life experts and have contributed to the reports findings.

University of Southampton deep-sea biologist Professor Tyler has been involved in expeditions to hydrothermal vent sites around the world, including the Cayman Trough and the East Scotia Ridge, and has led several investigations for ChEss (Chemosynthetic Ecosystem Science), a field project of the Census of Marine Life programme. In the New Year he heads to Antarctica again to the East Scotia Ridge to sample the animals living at the world’s most southerly vent fields.

Professor Tyler says: “The Census of Marine Life has fostered collaborations with scientists around the world. No one country or organisation could cover this vast expanse that is the ocean.”

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