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Humans have long had a great fascination with the sea. The mystery of our oceans has inspired scientific investigation since the 3rd century BC.
In 2000, a ten-year global Census of Marine Life was launched to formally assess the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine life. The census catalogued life forms from whales to microbes, discovering over 6000 potential new species. In 2011, NERC funded a three-year research project to assess the seafloor biodiversity of some of the world's least-studied marine habitats - seamounts in the south-west Indian Ocean. This ongoing project has already revealed such a rich array of life at these features that two have been proposed to the Convention on Biological Diversity for designation as Ecologically or Biologically Marine Significant Areas.
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