Representing the most comprehensive and authoritative answer yet to one of humanity’s most ancient questions—“what lives in the sea?”—Census of Marine Life scientists released an inventory of species distribution and diversity in key global ocean areas. Scientists combined information collected over centuries with data obtained during the decade-long Census to create a roll call of species in 25 biologically representative regions—from the Antarctic through temperate and tropical seas to the Arctic.
Australian and Japanese waters, which each feature almost 33,000 forms of life that have earned the status of “species” are by far the most bio-diverse. The oceans off China, the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico round out the top five areas most diverse in known species. 15,374 different marine species were identified in the Gulf of Mexico and crustaceans (your tasty shrimp and lobster) as the most abundant, making up 19% of the species in the Gulf. That being said the area is also one of the most threaten from overfishing, lost habitat, invasive species and pollution. Runoff from sediment, sewage and fertilizers were also found to be destroying marine habitats. It is unknown what the long-term effect of the oil spill will have on these species in the Gulf.