Wonders of ocean life counted in massive census
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A city of brittle stars off the coast of New Zealand, an Antarctic expressway where octopuses ride along in a flow of extra salty water and a carpet of tiny crustaceans on the Gulf of Mexico sea floor are among the wonders discovered by researchers compiling a massive census of marine life.
"We are still making discoveries," but researchers also are busy assembling data already collected into the big picture of life in the oceans, senior scientist Ron O'Dor said.
The fourth update of the census was released Sunday ahead of a meeting of hundreds of researchers that begins Tuesday in Valencia, Spain. More than 2,000 scientists from 82 nations are taking part in the project, which is to be completed in 2010.
A discovery that delights O'Dor is that many deep-ocean octopuses share an Antarctic origin. As the Antarctic got colder, ice increased and octopuses were forced into deeper water, he said in a telephone interview.