December 20, 2010, Updated September 27, 2012

Some 1,200 species and varieties of sea creatures newly discovered during the just-concluded first world “census” of marine life will be presented today in Jerusalem.

The 10-year-census cost $370 million, and 3,000 scientists from 80 countries – including three Israelis – participated in it.

The findings and a huge unpublished database that resulted from the decade-long work are to be presented at a conference at the Israel Academy of Sciences and the Humanities for biologists who specialize in animal life, and scientists in general.

Census director Jesse Ausubel will participate in the Israeli conference, which was initiated and will be chaired by Prof. Alex Keinan, an adviser to academy president Prof. Ruth Arnon. (Arnon is an Israeli biochemist and co-developer of Teva’s multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.)

Keinan notes that while the creatures that live on land have been studied since the Renaissance, the sea and its bottom had never been studied systematically until now.

Among the crabs, fish, worms and other “new” creatures that have been discovered is the first multi-cell organism to be identified that can live without oxygen. It was found on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea south of Crete by an Italian scientist. Sea plants, fish and bacteria unknown until now were also discovered.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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