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Schmidt Ocean Institute contribute 100 new species to Ocean Census programme

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Discoveries from recent expedition in Chile will help Ocean Census reach global target of finding 100,000 new species in 10 years

Call for scientists to submit their discoveries towards the global target.

Schmidt Ocean Institute have donated their discovery of more than 100 colourful new species, found off the coast of Chile, to the Ocean Census programme, supporting our mission to dramatically increase the rate of species discovery globally.

The discoveries were made during a recent expedition in the Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile, in an area where nearly half of the animals exist nowhere else on Earth.

Beyond imagination

Seamounts of the Southeast Pacific

A global mission to improve knowledge of life in our ocean.

Scientists believe that around two million species remain undiscovered globally. Ocean Census is the largest programme in history to discover ocean life at speed and at scale, supported by a passionate Alliance of partners.

The specimens contributed by Schmidt Ocean Institute include deep-sea corals, glass sponges, sea urchins, amphipods, and squat lobsters, all collected from in the southeastern Pacific and of the west coast of South America.

The discovery was made during a recent expedition off the coast of Chile. The team explored seamounts along the Nazca and Salas y Gómez Ridge, both inside and outside Chile’s jurisdiction. The Salas y Gómez Ridge is a 2,900-kilometre-long underwater mountain chain comprising more than 200 seamounts that stretch from offshore Chile to Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. The majority of the ridge exists outside national jurisdiction.

Additionally, the scientists explored two of Chile’s Marine Protected Areas, the Juan Fernandez and Nazca-Desventuradas marine parks. During the expedition, scientists deployed ROV SuBastain from R/V Falkor (Too), which is capable of descending to depths of 4,500 meters.

Launched in 2023 by The Nippon Foundation and Nekton, Ocean Census is enabling the development and implementation of a bold strategy to accelerate species discovery worldwide. Our goal is to combat the critical knowledge gap surrounding the diversity and distribution of marine life.

Species discovery is critical to ocean conservation because, although we know that marine habitats and biodiversity are in decline, a lack of data remains a key challenge. Our mission is to help to put together a more complete picture of the extraordinary abundance and diversity of life in our ocean that will support decision making and inspire people around the world.

We’re grateful to Schmidt Ocean Institute for their continued support and congratulate them on this fantastic discovery.

Schmidt Ocean Institute will be operating in the Southeast Pacific, exploring the waters off Peru and Chile throughout 2024.

Credit: all images and video to Alex Ingle / ROV SuBastian / Schmidt Ocean Institute 2024.

"Dr Sellanas and his team have an incredible number of samples from this amazingly beautiful and little-known biodiversity hotspot. Schmidt Ocean Institute is a partner with the Ocean Census Program and, once identified, these new species will be a part of that."

Jyotika Virmani, Executive Director of Schmidt Ocean Institute

Donate your discovery

Cooperation with scientists and institutes around the world is a vital part of our mission. Together, we’re helping to raise awareness of the knowledge gap in marine science and increasing capacity around the world.

If you would like to submit a new discovery towards the global target, get in touch.

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