Scientists Find Scores of Species in Philippine Waters

Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences celebrated World Oceans Day on Monday by announcing the discovery of more than 100 species that they suspect are new to science.

All of the specimens — ranging from sea slugs to delicate heart urchins — were found off the coast of the Philippines as part of the academy’s long-running exploration of the Coral Triangle. During this year’s seven-week expedition, funded by the National Science Foundation, the scientists zeroed in on the Verde Island Passage, nestled between the Philippine islands of Luzon and Mindoro.

“The Philippines is jam-packed with diverse and threatened species — it’s one of the most astounding regions of biodiversity on Earth, ” principal investigator Terry Gosliner, the academy’s senior curator of invertebrate zoology, said in a news release. “Despite this richness, the region’s biodiversity has been relatively unknown. The species lists and distribution maps that we’ve created during our years surveying the country’s land and sea will help to inform future conservation decisions and ensure that this incredible biodiversity is afforded the best possible chance of survival.”

The academy said the expedition’s discoveries will be confirmed in the coming months through DNA sequencing and other tests. In the meantime, feast your eyes on some of the academy’s greatest hits:

greatest hits:

Image: Tunicates
Tonicates, commonly known as sea squirts, spend most of their lives attached to rocks. These multicolored specimens are among the species spotted during an expedition to the Philippines’ Verde Island Passage. Gary Williams / California Academy of Sciences
Image: Rhopalaea
Brilliant blue sea squirts from the genus Rhopalaea hug a coral reef off the coast of the Philippines. Gary Williams / California Academy of Sciences
This live Chelidonura alexisi nudibranch surprised curator Terry Gosliner, who had based a species description on analysis of a deceased specimen. The living animal provided a wealth of new information — what the nudibranch looks like, how it lays eggs, and how it varies within its species. California Academy of Sciences
Image: Biodiversity
Colorful fish swarm the coral in the Philippines’ Verde Island Passage. Rich Mooi / California Academy of Sciences
Image: Heart urchin
Scientists say this is a new species of heart urchin, discovered near Puerto Galera in the Philippines. Rich Mooi / California Academy of Sciences

Via nbcnews