How Many Species Live in the Ocean?

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​While scientists estimate that 91 percent of ocean species have yet to be classified, the global scientific community continues to amass as much knowledge as possible about ocean life. Shown here: Kelp forests within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Given the vast size of the ocean, it is impossible to know the exact number of species that live there. Research suggests, however, that the number of species in the ocean is decreasing. The continued decline in the health of many ecosystems, coupled with rising extinction rates, are likely outpacing species’ ability to evolve to tolerate the conditions of our rapidly changing planet. It is not all bad news, though. Researchers around the world continue to study marine life and habitats to help develop new strategies to preserve vital ocean ecosystems.

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