Monday, February 05, 2007

Thousands of potential new marine species found in Philippine waters

New mollusk species found in Philippines
A very rare seashell of the Slit shell family (scientific name: Bayerotrochus philpoppei) which was discovered by Belgian Guido Poppe in early 2006 off Balut Island in southern Philippines is displayed at the National Museum in Manila, Philippines Monday Feb.5, 2007 at the turn-over ceremony of newly-discovered marine species in the waters off Panglao Island in Bohol province in central Philippines. More than 1,200 species of decapod crustaceans and some 6,000 species of mollusks were discovered by the Panglao 2005-2006 Expedition team headed by Dr. Philippe Bouchet of the French National Museum of Natural History. Only 10 specimens are known around the world as claimed by Belgian Guido Poppe who discovered the rare find and has a price tag of US $10,000 dollars. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines - A French-led marine expedition team believes it has discovered thousands of new species of mollusks and crustaceans around a Philippine island, officials and scientists announced Monday.

Some 80 scientists, technicians, students and volunteers from 19 countries surveyed waters around Panglao island, 390 miles southeast of Manila from 2004-2005.

The Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project turned over to the Philippine National Museum on Monday more than a hundred holotypes or representative specimen of the rare finds, officials said.

"Numerous species were observed and photographed alive, many for the first time, and it is estimated that 150-250 of the crustaceans and 1,500-2,500 of the mollusks are new species," said a statement from the expedition team, which was led by Philippe Bouchet of the French National Museum of Natural History.

"However, it requires a thorough comparison with all previously named species to ascertain if a novel species is indeed new to science," it added. "This is a slow and tedious process."

The expedition team said its survey revealed over 1,200 species of decapod crustaceans — a group that includes crayfish, crabs, lobsters and shrimps — and some 6,000 species of mollusks.

The expedition received funding from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Total Foundation.