Sea Census Complete

Duke contributes map of world's marine life
January 31, 2011
 
Hot spots: The map’s rainbow shading represents varying degrees of biodiversity. Researchers used statistical models to make predictions about marine life in areas that have not been well explored.
 
Hot spots: The map’s rainbow shading represents varying degrees of biodiversity. Researchers used statistical models to make predictions about marine life in areas that have not been well explored.

Hot spots: The map’s rainbow shading represents varying degrees of biodiversity. Researchers used statistical models to make predictions about marine life in areas that have not been well explored.
Patrick Halpin

After ten years of research conducted by thousands of scientists worldwide, the Census of Marine Life, which has turned up nearly 6,000 newly discovered ocean-dwelling species, was completed last year. Using the results, researchers at Duke, led by Patrick Halpin, associate professor of marine geospatial ecology at the Nicholas School of the Environment, have created a new map that provides the most detailed overview yet of the planet’s marine life.

The two-sided, poster-sized map identifies the regions that are home to the world’s greatest concentrations of marine biodiversity and abundance; the long-distance migration paths of key predators; the regions that have been most affected by human activities; and the locations of coral reefs, hydrothermal vents, seeps, seamounts, and other geological features that foster high diversity and abundance of marine life.

“Ninety-nine percent of the data from the census isn’t here, but the key themes—that life in Earth’s oceans is richer, more connected, and more altered than expected—are represented,” Halpin says.

View the map.