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To quote from the site:

"The Census of Marine Life is a global network of researchers in more than 80 nations engaged in a 10-year scientific initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans. The world's first comprehensive Census of Marine Life - past, present, and future - will be released in 2010."

At the time of writing, this one is in the news as the scientists, though not yet ready to release their full report, are tempting us with an interim statement which reveals that they've found nearly six thousand new species, in places they believed to have been deserted. Below the point at which sunlight ceases, they've recorded a total of 17,650 species all alive and doing well down there. And they're hoping to have cataloged something in the region of a quarter of a million species in the oceans by the time the survey ends. Nevertheless, they still suspect that at least a million species are as yet unknown, making it possible that the oceans contain at least as many species of plants and animals as are known on land.

But enough of the science and speculation, the place to go here is the gallery of images at where you can get up close and personal with some of the underwater species that have been cataloged. Some awesome images here, and if you're a little more interested in the projects and the science there is also a gallery of video clips which give little tastes of the work at hand.

The ocean floor is the last great undiscovered land on Earth and the life forms which make it their home are both beautiful and mysterious. Their existence speaks to the mystery of life itself, and the need to protect their environment from the careless human damage that has destroyed so many others.

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