Census of Marine Life: Wild and Wonderful Creatures

The Census of Marine Life was a ten-year effort by scientists from around the world to answer the age-old question, “What lives in the sea?” The international effort to asses the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life that lives in our ocean officially concluded in October 2010. Over the course of looking for organisms in many ocean habitats—coral reefs, the deep sea, the abyssal plain, hydrothermal vents, and others—researchers discovered thousands of new species and photographed many others for the first time. Browse a small sampling of the amazing marine life documented by Census scientists in this photo slideshow. Not enough for you? Check out other slideshows of coral reef species, squids, and deep-sea corals.

Deep-sea dragonfish from Australia
This bright purple sea star is a new species found by the Census of Coral Reef Ecosystems, a project of the Census of Marine Life.Sargassum fish from South KoreaThe squidworm has 10 tentacle-like appendages on its head.Spider conch near ChinaArctic Sea CucumberZombie worm eats whale bones in Japan's Sagami BayDeep Water Octopus in the Gulf of MexicoAtolla Jellyfish from the Waters of JapanVenus fly-trap anemone in the Gulf of MexicoCensus researchers discovered this sea cucumber (Enypniastes sp.) in the Gulf of Mexico.A red and white colored bristle worm swims in the water column.A transparent amphipod looks a bit like a lobster, surrounded by white eggs. A fringe of tentacles surrounds the bell of this jellyfish (Halicreas minimum).This jelly’s red color provides camouflage in the ocean depths.This colony of <em>Rosacea</em> may look like a single jellyfish, but it is actually a large group of smaller siphonophores clustered and living together.New deep sea expeditions reveal new species underwater.A sea butterfly, or sea snail, swims in the open ocean. Photograph of a transparent polka-dotted squid in the dark ocean.Photograph of a translucent red-orange comb jelly against a black sea.