Ocean Census newsletter, Oktober 2023

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Wednesday 11 October 2023

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Welcome from the Science Director

Dear Colleagues,
Unity is more than a concept — it’s the driving force fueling our collective pursuit of knowledge and discovery. This spirit of collaboration emboldens us to reach for seemingly audacious goals. I’m thrilled to share that Ocean Census is already making significant strides in our mission.
Our recent collaborations with UNEP-WCMC and WoRMS have further solidified the importance of partnerships when shaping the future of taxonomy. I am genuinely excited about these alliances as they bring us closer to our overarching goal.
We have recently greenlit two ambitious expeditions aimed at discovering and cataloguing species. While I’m eager to divulge the details of these exciting ventures, I’ll keep you in suspense for now. Rest assured, more information on these expeditions will be featured in our next newsletter, so stay tuned!
Innovation is at the heart of our efforts, and I’m elated to introduce the Ocean Census Sampling Toolkit. Envisioned as a mobile laboratory, the Toolkit recently received a significant boost with the donation of two containerised laboratories by Open Cell. Originally designed for Covid Testing, these labs will now serve a grander purpose: unveiling the ocean’s biodiversity and their adaptability will empower our scientists and partners to operate in locations previously deemed challenging because of a lack of laboratory space. The portable labs will play a pivotal role in specimen documentation, preservation, and genomic studies. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to Open Cell for this invaluable contribution.
On a closing note, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Daniel Moore, our new Expedition Science Director, and Verity Nye, our new Science Coordinator. Their expertise and passion will undoubtedly enrich our endeavours.
Our collective efforts go beyond mere species discovery — we’re charting a path towards a future where the enigmas of our vast ocean are both understood and protected by humanity. Your involvement in this remarkable journey is deeply appreciated.
Professor Alex Rogers, Ocean Census

Want to help? We’re keen to reach individuals and groups of scientists, researchers and taxonomic specialists globally, especially in low-and middle-income countries, small-island nations. Please share this newsletter with any friends, colleagues or communities who you think may be interested in our mission. If you don’t receive it yet, register for our Science Network to be added to the community mailing list.



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Resource of the month

This month we revealed a landmark new approach to the discovery of life — cyber-taxonomy — in Frontiers of Marine Science. Co-designed by dozens of international experts, this method creates digital twins of each species and provides the revolutionary potential underpinning Ocean Census. The paper (Rogers et al., 2023), published with members of the Expert Working Groups who contributed to the Ocean Census Feasibility Study, outlines the critical importance of accelerating species discovery in the ocean and the strategies we are deploying including digitisation and cybertaxonomy, adoption of new working approaches and technologies, capacity building, and working to improve ocean literacy.
“This mission is a testament to the power of global collaboration. By bringing together minds and resources from around the world, we are ensuring that the discoveries made are not just advancements in science but contributions to global knowledge, accessible to all.”
Dr. Punyasloke Bhadury, Co-Author and Professor at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata.
We thank our founding partners The Nippon Foundation and Nekton for making both the paper and Ocean Census possible. We also thank all the affiliated organisations of our authors for providing the time to write this paper.
Read the paper>>



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Call Out! We’re on a mission to share training opportunities with our network as part of our work to build capacity and increase access to taxonomy and aligned disciplines.
If you or your organisation would like to advertise opportunities to our network, both immediate and future, please get in touch with our Science Team.


CORDAP Coral Accelerator Program (CAP)

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G20 CORDAP is filling the gap between current and required capabilities when it comes to saving tropical coral reefs and deep-water corals. Funding is available to gather data relevant to conservation and restoration to coral ecosystems including cold-water corals. Submission deadline: 10 November.


OET Expedition 2024

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The OET is offering 1 berth for an Ocean Census-affiliated taxonomist to sail onboard their ROV expedition to Jarvis next year (tentatively scheduled 11 July – 6 August 2024). The team is looking for a taxonomist with expertise in deep-water sponges, which has been a knowledge gap on previous explorations.
Speak to our Science Team to find out more >>



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From Midlands to Mid-Ocean Ridges: Diving Deep with Marine Ecologist Verity Nye

Verity is a marine ecologist focused on biodiversity, life-history biology and biogeography, especially in the deep sea. Her research has revealed patterns of life and life-cycles of organisms at deep-sea chemosynthetic ecosystems, including the discovery and description of new species. Verity has contributed to advice to the UN International Seabed Authority and has substantial experience of marine management in England. She was also part of the team that developed and presented the Massive Open Online Course in Exploring our Oceans and has shared her research with wider public audiences.
Read the interview>>

Blog: Biodiversity and beauty at Johnston Atoll

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In August, Ocean Census Science Network participant Raissa Hogan joined the OET expedition to the Central Pacific, exploring to a depth of 3,200m and earning the title ‘Sea Pen Queen’. Read about her experiences onboard, watch the highlight film and check out the gallery of stunning wildlife including close-up shots of animals including a translucent sea pig, Bolosoma sponges and sea dandelions.
Read more>>



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Andrei Savin: Love at first sight

Underwater photographer Andrei Savin won second overall place in this year’s Ocean Photographer of the Year Awards. In his interview, he speaks to our Alliance Partner Oceanographic Magazine about his winning shot, his fascination with anemones, and more.

Call for regional stories

We’re on the look out for community and professional species discovery projects around the globe so that we can shine a spotlight on the brilliant contributions of so many to taxonomic science.
If you or someone you know has a story to share, please get in touch with our Science Team>>.



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Recent outreach

In the past months our representatives have spoken at IFREMER, the French Institute for Ocean Exploration, and Head of Expeditions Sarah-Jane Walsh attended Diving Talks in Lisbon to raise awareness of our recruitment drive for experienced tech divers to help run field expeditions.
If you are interested in hosting Ocean Census at a future event, please get in touch.


Catch us soon

In the coming months the team will visit marine biodiversity scientists at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the 8th Edition of the Expo-Bourse Internationale Coquillages De Pont A Celles in Belgium 15-16 October, and the International Research Ship Operators (IRSO) meeting in Bruges 16 – 20 October.
Keep an eye on our social media for opportunities to participate in events.

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A ‘Mind-boggling’ sea creature spotted off Japan has finally been identified: Published in Science, the story of how a creature captured off the coast of Japan in photos by Ryo Minemizu, a professional underwater photographer, were finally identified by Igor Adameyko, a developmental neurobiologist at the Medical University of Vienna.

Squat Lobsters Guide Scientists To New Hydrothermal Vent Field: Scientists onboard a Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition have discovered a new hydrothermal vent field larger than a professional soccer field in the Pacific Ocean off the Western Galápagos Islands.

The Silent Extinction of Species and Taxonomists — An Appeal to Science Policymakers and Legislators: An analysis of the underfunding and undervaluing of the science of taxonomy, despite a biodiversity crisis, identifying five major issues and ideas around how we can transform taxonomy into a thriving science again. Read the paper>>


Explosion in fish biodiversity due to genetic recycling: Scientists show how the extraordinary diversity of cichlid fish in Africa’s Lake Victoria was made possible by ‘genetic recycling’ in an evolutionary case study that has fascinated researchers for decades.


Ocean Census Engages UNEP-WCMC Data Expertise in Groundbreaking Ocean Discovery Initiative: in a significant move, strategic alliance will see UNEP-WCMC support the management of the huge amount of data that will be generated during expeditions.

Ocean Census and WoRMS Announce Partnership to Enhance Rapid Discovery and Identification of Marine Life: collaboration will harness WoRMS’ expertise and global leadership in marine taxonomy and taxonomic data and see specialists play a pivotal role in all aspects of Ocean Census. We’re now inviting scientists, researchers, and taxonomic experts from around the world to join the Ocean Census Science Network.


Join the Alliance

Our mission to accelerate species discovery globally is gaining momentum. Organisations are invited to be part of our movement by joining the Ocean Census Alliance. We work with business partners, philanthropists and others who support us with a wide range of in-kind support, funding and expertise, from marine operations to vessel hire, subsea technogy to logistics.
If you’re interested in getting onboard, speak to us>>


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This newsletter was written by Aimee McAvoy, Kira Coley and Alex Rogers.


Photos reproduced with thanks to:
Ocean Image Bank / Matt Curnock @matt_curnock
Ocean Exploration Trust/Andrei Savin @uw.art
Naturalis Biodiversity Center/Ryo Minemizu @ryominemizu


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