My friends at National Geographic have provided permission for me to share some of the images from the recent discovery of a huge number of new species on and around the south Pacific island of Vanuatu.
November 24, 2008--Even on tiny remote islands, scientists can find an impressive array of life.
During the Santo 2006 biodiversity survey in Vanuatu, 153 scientists from 20 countries fanned out across the remote South Pacific island of Espiritu Santo, examining mountains, forests, caves, reefs, and water for all living organisms.
In five months, they collected 10,000 species. Some 2,000 of these may be new to science.
This squat lobster, found in waters 150 meters (492 feet) deep, is one of the new species. Eighty percent of the world's species remain to be discovered, notes French scientist Philippe Bouchet, one of the expedition's leaders.
Sweet, I'll be there in January. I think 150m is a little out of my diving range though so I'll have to settle for the more prosacic species (and one of the world's coolest wrecks - the SS President Coolidge ;).
I love Vanuatu and the SWP islands, there is so much here to offer the world, the wonderful colours and uniqueness of this lobster is just a sample of that.
Amanda, Sydney, Australia
That 80 percent figure is a shot in the dark. AFAIK, no one knows within an order of magnitude how many species are out there. Groups like the nematodes and mites (to say nothing of the bacteria and archaea) lack students with the perseverance (and financial support) to do more than nibble around the edges of our ignorance.
Like the others, I love Vanuatu for a whole range of reasons... for a family holiday, it's much cheaper than going to Queensland (we're from South Australia), but the food, culture, biodiversity is just grand... I remember eating a strange tiger-stripped lobster there once - hope it wasn't the last of its kind ;-)