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Ocean Census Discovers New Fish
More than 600 new species of fish have been discovered by a major ocean census and thousands more may be lurking undetected.
By Julianna Kettlewell
BBC News Online staff
Thursday, 23 October, 2003
Scorpion fish

The Census of Marine Life

A new species of scorpionfish was discovered
A new species of scorpionfish was discovered
Some 300 scientists from 53 countries are creating a record of all known marine life, in a project reminiscent of an aquatic Domesday Book.
The 10-year Census of Marine Life project will form an open database of raw material available to everyone.
It will pinpoint endangered animals and suggest how to protect them.
Pole to pole
So far, 15,304 species of fish have been logged. Between 2,000 and 3,000 more are expected to join the list before the census ends in 2010 — and many will be previously unknown species.
We are at the start of a great adventure, like going to the moon
Jesse Ausubel
Census Program Director
Apart from cataloguing species diversity, distribution and abundance, the census will explain how ocean life changes over time and in the face of human activity.
Extending from pole to pole and covering virtually every ocean, the Census of Marine Life (CoML) is easily the most ambitious and costly project of its kind.
Much of the $1bn bill will be footed by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation — a philanthropic non-profit organisation — and individual governments.
The unknown ocean
The census is divided into seven parts. As well as Pacific shorelines and the North Atlantic sea floor, scientists are examining the Gulf of Maine, hydrothermal vents, coastal salmon runs, the world wide habits of large fish and mammals, and animals of the abyss.
The first census report just published outlines how the understanding of these seven topics has advanced since the initiative began three years ago.
One 'hot pot' of discovery has been the deep waters off Angola.
Researchers exploring the abyssal sediments found an environment with more species per area than any other known aquatic environment on Earth.
Grenadiers

The Census of Marine Life

New species of grenadiers found in the western Mediterranean
New species of grenadiers found in the western Mediterranean
About 500 of the species collected are thought to be new to science.
Experts hope that the research will improve understanding of the relationship between deep-sea species diversity and the richness of food in the water column.
The report also highlights the habits of young salmon during the sea dwelling stage of their lives, challenging conventional ideas about their survival.
"Most of the attention on salmon has been in rivers," Mike Vecchione, a scientist at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, told BBC News Online.
"But the census has found that most deaths of young salmon occur in the open ocean. This information may be key to maintaining their populations."
Long journey
This is not the first survey into marine life. Numerous catalogues of aquatic creatures are available to the public, but the Census of Marine Life claims to be a league apart.
"Most other marine surveys concentrate on commercially important species or charismatic animals like sharks or whales, but we are casting our net far wider," said Jesse Ausubel, Program Director of CoML.
Over the next seven years, the census hopes to bring the number of marine species on the database to well over 210,000.
They also plan to establish pharmaceutical uses for some of the new species discovered.
Less than 14 kilometres off the Florida Keys, scientists recently discovered a new species — perhaps even a new genus — of sponge, which has been nicknamed the 'Rasta sponge'.
Chemical compounds found in the sponge may help treat cancerous tumours.
But those involved in the census acknowledge they are still at the beginning of a very long voyage.
"Some 95% of the ocean is still unexplored biologically.   We don't know what that figure will be in 2010, but we hope it will be much smaller," Mr Ausubel said.
"We hope we will have visited and sampled all the major domains of the ocean.
We are at the start of a great adventure, like going to the Moon.
But we know more about the surface of the Moon."
MMIII
Saturday, 30 August, 2003
New species uncovered in Venezuela
Aphyocharax yekwanae

The Aphyocharax yekwanae was named in honour of the Indians who live in the basin
The Aphyocharax yekwanae was named in honour of the Indians who live in the basin
Scientists working in the jungles of Venezuela have discovered 10 new species of fish and a previously unknown species of shrimp.
Among the new discoveries, revealed by US-based Conservation International, was an armoured catfish whose spiky head earned him the nickname 'punk' and a piranha that eats fruit as well as flesh.
The group are now calling on the Venezuelan Government to protect the Caura River Basin, where the species were found, designating the 4,500-hectare (11,115-acre) area a wildlife reserve.
"For its size, it's incredible what the area has.   It's a hot spot that should be protected," said zoologist Antonio Machado, who helped direct the research.
Area under threat
The Caura River Basin, in the state of Bolivar, is an area of pristine tropical forest and waterways tucked away in the highlands, about 500 kilometres (300 miles) south-east of the Venezuelan capital Caracas.
The Caura River Basin requires immediate and urgentprotection as a wildlife reserve
Zoologist Antonio Machado
Conservationists are concerned that the area will fall prey to encroaching human settlements as well as the adverse effects of increased farming and fishing.
The region could also be threatened by future hydroelectricity plans, the group said.
"The Caura River Basin requires immediate and urgent protection as a wildlife reserve," said Mr Machado, who described the region as a biological 'hotspot'.
One of the most colourful discoveries was a green and red variety of the Bloodfin Tetra family — a type popular with aquarium owners — which has been given the Latin name Aphyocharax yekwanae in honour of the Ye'Kwana Indians who live in the basin.
"These indigenous people depend on the water," Mr Machado explained.
The omnivorous piranha, which supplements its diet with fruit from submerged trees, was called Serrasalmus.
While the tentacle armoured catfish has been formally dubbed Ancistrus, the team of international scientists that found it on their expedition in 2000 gave it the nickname "punk fish" because of its spiky head.

SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
Further evidence crabs and other crustaceans feel pain
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC World Service
17 January 2013
Scientists have found further evidence that crustaceans feel pain.
A study has revealed that the shore crab, a close relative of the species we use for food, responds to electric shocks and then goes on to avoid them.
Crustaceans at market.

Scientists have found further evidence that crustaceans feel pain.

The scientists said the food and fishing industry should start to think about the welfare of crustaceans
The scientists said the food and fishing industry should start to think about the welfare of crustaceans
Previous research has shown that prawns and hermit crabs also react to painful situations.
The scientists say the findings suggest the food and aquaculture industry should rethink how it treats these animals.
The work is published in the
Journal of Experimental Biology.
Professor Bob Elwood, from Queen's University Belfast, told the BBC's Science in Action programme:
"I don't know what goes on in a crab's mind.... but what I can say is the whole behaviour goes beyond a straightforward reflex response and it fits all the criteria of pain."
Shell shocked
Pain is a subjective experience and studying it in animals — especially invertebrates such as crabs — is not easy.
But Prof Elwood designed an experiment to assess how crustaceans respond to potentially painful situations.
He looked at the European shore crab (Carcinus maenas) — a creature that usually takes shelter under dark rocks during the day to avoid being spotted and eaten by seagulls.
Ninety crabs were individually placed in a brightly lit arena, and had the option of scuttling to two dark shelters.
Once the creatures had taken refuge away from the light, half were given an electric shock in the first shelter they chose.
The shocked crabs were then placed back into the tank again, but to the researchers' surprise, most of them moved back to the original shelter where they had been stunned.
Those that made this decision were then shocked a second time.
But now the painful experience had an impact on their future behaviour.
Shore crab

Scientists have found further evidence that crustaceans feel pain.

The researchers placed the crabs in an arena and studied how the responded to electric shocks
The researchers placed the crabs in an arena and studied how the responded to electric shocks
Crabs close up
Prof Elwood said:
"Those crabs shocked in the previous trial were much more likely to switch shelters than those who hadn't been shocked in the previous trial.
Just two experiences produced a significant switch in behaviour.
They leave what is a desired place — a dark shelter — to go out into this dangerous light environment — they are giving up something very valuable."
The crustaceans were placed back in the arena another eight times, and although there were no more shocks, they continued to avoid the shelter where they had been sparked.
The scientists concluded that this was more than a simple reflex reaction to pain, and that the animals were learning from their experience and this was driving their future choices.
Animal welfare
Earlier work by the same team has also revealed that prawns and hermit crabs display behaviour that is consistent with our perception of pain.
They say they now believe that all decapod crustaceans — a group that also includes lobsters and crayfish — would show the same response.
Prof Elwood said that there were currently no regulations to protect the welfare of these animals.
He pointed to practices in some fisheries where claws are cut from live crabs before the animals are thrown back into the sea.
"You see these practices and you really do have to question whether they are reasonable... Even if you are reluctant to believe the data as being strongly suggestive [that the animals experience pain], is it worthwhile imposing this on billions of animals ever year throughout the world?"
Commenting on the research, Dr Lynne Sneddon, a senior lecturer at the University of Chester and the University of Liverpool, said the research was "thorough" and had been "carried out well".
You see these practices
and you really do have to
question whether they are
reasonable
Prof Bob Elwood
Queen's University, Belfast
Her research has focused on pain in fish, and said there were further avenues that the team could explore with crustaceans.
She said:
"You could look to see whether there are any changes in gene expression, electrical activity or hormone release that is different from non-painful stimulation."
But a spokesman for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said that while the organisation had concluded that fish could feel pain, in the EU, decapods were not classified as sentient species.
He said the subject of pain in crustaceans was "controversial" and a matter of data interpretation.
However, he added that in an
earlier report about animals in laboratories the EFSA had recommended improving the welfare for these animals.
BBC © 2013
        Piranhas — new dams bring caribe attacks        
        Fish that walk on land        
        Scientists find 'smallest fish'       
        Atlantic cod — ninety percent decline        
        Tuna Stocks Close to Exhaustion        
        How we are emptying our seas        
       Ice sheet reveal ancient plant matter      
       High-resolution polar ice and sea ice elevation      
Pygmy Elephants and Palm Oil Threat
The only hope for these elephants now is protection of the lowland forest as nature reserves or sustainably managed logging concessions.
Forests are being burned and peat wetlands drained for plantations, causing huge releases of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Land clearances in Indonesia to meet the growing global demand for palm oil pose a serious threat to the environment.
Gorillas, orangutans, and corals are among the plants and animals which are sliding closer to extinction.
     Clock ticking for Indonesian rainforest       
     Deforestation illegal logging primarily not because of poverty but corruption     
      Destruction of rainforest Indonesia Riau province     
Extreme drought in Amazon rainforest linked to deforestation and climate change
The trouble has been that while traditional aerial images can show areas that have been completely destroyed, they do not reveal selective logging of valuable trees such as mahogany.
Brazilian officials praised the scientists for highlighting the issue of selective logging, but said the new figures were hard to believe.
     Clock ticking for Indonesian rainforest       
     Deforestation across the world     
       Amazon 'stealth' logging revealed    
 
 

 
 
 
For archive purposes, this article is being stored on TheWE.cc website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.