Australia's "terrifying" dragonfish (pictured) uses its many fangs—which even stud its tongue—to hook hard-to-find prey in the cold, dark depths, scientists say.
The banana-size fish is one of tens of thousands of both known and new species included in a new inventory released today by the Census of Marine Life, a decade-long ocean-exploration project.
(See a video of creatures included in the record-breaking survey.)
The first-of-its-kind "roll call" of marine species from 25 diverse ocean regions is a prelude to the census's final summary of up to 230,000 species to be released October 4, census scientists say.
(More Census of Marine Life pictures: "Hard-to-See Sea Creatures Revealed.")
To create the inventory—published Monday in the journal PloS One—scientists combined years of census data with previous research on the richness of ocean species. Species counts in each of the 25 areas ranged from 2,600 to 33,000, with an average of about 10,750 per region. Altogether census scientists found more than a hundred thousand species in the 25 regions.
"This inventory was urgently needed for two reasons," report lead author Mark Costello, of the Leigh Marine Laboratory at New Zealand's University of Auckland, said in a statement.
First, not knowing what species ply the oceans "impairs society's ability to discover and describe new species," Costello said.
The research may also serve as a base line, helping scientists to track future extinctions: "Marine species have suffered major declines—in some cases 90 percent losses—due to human activities and may be heading for extinction—as happened to many species on land."