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WoRMS announces Top 10 Marine Species of 2023

Ten remarkable new marine species from 2023, as voted for by you.

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As for previous years, the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) has again released its annual list of the top-ten marine species described by researchers during the past year to coincide with World Taxonomist Appreciation Day on March 19th.

The Top 10 of 2023:

Falkor’s Carnivorous Sponge, Abyssocladia falkor
The Bifrost Nemertean, Tetranemertes bifrost
Solwarawarriors vestimentiferan, Alaysia solwarawarriors
Hannan’s Pygmy Squid, Kodama jujutsu
The Samoan Nautilus, Nautilus samoaensis
Prince Albert’s Sea Daisy, Xyloplax princealberti
Bouchet’s Dorymenia, Dorymenia boucheti
Fine Line Nudibranch, Halgerda scripta
Fordyce’s Giant Penguin, Kumimanu fordycei †
St. George’s Cross Medusa, Santjordia pagesi

Find out more, including Top 10s of previous years.


WoRMS is part of the Ocean Census Alliance and a vital partner in our mission to accelerate the discovery of ocean species.

Every day in labs, museums, and out on fieldwork, taxonomists are busy collecting, cataloguing, identifying, comparing, describing, and naming species new to science.

Over 300 taxonomists globally also contribute their valuable time to keeping the World Register of Marine Species up to date. Today is a chance for WoRMS to thank its taxonomic editors for this important task. We celebrate the work of taxonomists now with the WoRMS list of the top-ten marine species described in 2023 as nominated and voted for by taxonomists, journal editors and WoRMS users.

This top-ten list is just a small highlight of about 2,000 fascinating new marine species discovered every year (there were almost 2,000 marine species described in 2023 and added to WoRMS, including some 330 fossil species).

How were the species chosen?

A call for nominations was announced in December 2023, sent to all editors of WoRMS and editors of major taxonomy journals, and posted openly on the WoRMS website and social media so anyone had the opportunity to nominate their favorite marine species.

Nominated species must have been described between January 1st and December 31st 2023, and have come from the marine environment (including fossil taxa). A small committee of volunteers (including both taxonomists and data managers) was brought together to decide upon the final candidates. The list is in no hierarchical order.

The final decisions reflect the immense diversity of taxonomic groups in the marine environment (including crustaceans, corals, sponges, jellies and worms) and highlight some of the challenges facing the marine environment today. The final candidates also feature some particularly astonishing marine creatures, notable for their interest to both science and the public.

Each of these marine species has a story. This year the chosen species cover the weird, the bewildering and the astonishing. We feature, amongst others, a beautifully colored nemertean, a carnivorous sponge, and a giant extinct penguin.

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.

If you work in taxonomy or another marine science, you can join the Ocean Census Science Network and be part of our community passionate about driving forward our mission, helping to coordinate opportunities, resources and collaborate.

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