Census of Marine Life that will be formally presented in early October 2010.
This type of cataloguing and describing of species represents one of the lowest and oldest "levels" of scientific enterprise (although this study required the most up-to-date technology). Cataloguing and describing species pre-dates the 18th Century's Carl Linnaeus (the father of Taxonomy) who invented the binomial naming system still in use today. It is worthwhile work and not surprisingly it reveals that there is an awful lot we have yet to discover about planet Earth.
The number of "new" creatures revealed in this study should be humbling to the scientists and for me indicates just how little is known about how things work on Earth.
The reason I bring this up aside from my love of science and nature, is the spin being applied to this story. Sure human actions are endangering ocean life, we are all aware of what "over-fishing" has done to the East Coast Canadian Maritime fisheries, but to me that is an issue of ownership. When no one owns an area, whether on the ocean or the land, when that area is designated as "public property" or "government-owned" who is responsible for the area? Of course the simple answer is that government bureaucracy "manages" the area. Well, in Canada the Department of Fisheries and Oceans "managed" the East Coast Cod Fishery, how did that work out? The Minerals Management Service in the USA was responsible for "regulating" safe oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, how did that work out? If these areas were privately owned, the owners would probably be more careful preserving them. I'll bet they would harvest whatever resource wealth was in their territory in as sustainable a fashion as possible to protect their own interests. Governments, bureaucrats, typically have other motives like pandering to special interest lobby groups for political favours.
The worst thing that could happen to some of these marvellously diverse and productive ecosystems discovered in the Census of Marine Life is that they are "managed" by various government agencies around the world.