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The diversity of marine life in the Gulf of Maine region is much greater than previously thought

ed using standard species classifications. Though still in preliminary form, the register is a tremendously useful resource to investigators of biodiversity in the Gulf of Maine.

For example, it provides a baseline against which scientists can monitor future losses or introductions of species in the region as a result of climate change or other events, whether natural or induced by humans. Because the Gulf of Maine lies in an area that transitions from subpolar to temperate conditions, it and its creatures may serve as a sentinel for climate change. And, by providing a more complete picture of the marine web of life, it is another step toward managing the Gulf of Maine as an ecosystem ?one of the primary goals of fisheries laws in the U.S. and Canada and of recent ocean commissions.

"Though the Gulf of Maine is one of the most intensively studied bodies of water in the world, there has never been an undertaking to compile all species living there. This register is the first comprehensive list of organisms living in the Gulf of Maine, and the count clearly exceeds the commonly bandied projection of approximately 2000 species" according to Van Guelpen.

Incze emphasized that, while the register is the region's first comprehensive, authoritative list of known species, it is a work in progress. For example, just outside of the Gulf of Maine proper, seaward of Georges Bank, scientists exploring a chain of extinct, undersea volcanoes known as the New England Seamounts are finding both species that are likely new to science and species whose existence has been known on the eastern side of the Atlantic but never before seen in the Gulf of Maine region. "And," he said, "there are likely thousands more species throughout the Gulf of Maine not yet identified. These include small worms and other organisms living in the soft sediments that cover much of the sea floor and microscopic bacteria and viruses that live throughout the ecosystem. While mo
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Source:Census of Marine Life


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