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The Ministry of the Environment and Drainage will next week join its global counterparts in observing International Day for Biological Diversity.

Marine Biodiversity is the theme for the Day, which will be celebrated next Tuesday, May 22.

The 2012 theme is aimed at providing Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and everyone involved in marine life, the opportunity to raise awareness of the issue as well as increase practical action.

To mark the occasion, the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage will be undertaking an educational exercise with Wesley Hall Infants School, its adopted school.

On that day, students will be given the opportunity to tour the Folkestone Marine Reserve from 10:30 a.m. and learn about Barbados’ marine biodiversity.

According to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) website, from 2000 to 2010, 2,700 scientists from over 80 nations participated in 540 expeditions around the world, in an effort to determine how much life there was at sea.

Dubbed the ???Census of Marine Life’, the scientists reportedly studied surface seawater, probed the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean, sailed tropical seas and explored ice-strewn oceans in the Arctic and Antarctic.

The CBD revealed that by the time the Census ended, it had added 1,200 species to the known roster of life in the sea. Scientists are said to be still working their way through another 5,000 specimens to determine whether they are also newly-discovered species. The estimate of the number of known marine species – those identified and those documented but awaiting classification – has increased as a direct result of the Census efforts, and is said to be now around 250,000.

In its final report, the Census team suggested it could be at least a million. Some think the figure could be twice as high.

In giving some insight into marine and coastal biodiversity, the CBD indicated that the oceans cover 70 per cent of the planet’s surface area, and marine and coastal environments contain diverse habitats that support an abundance of marine life.

"Life in our seas produces a third of the oxygen that we breathe, offers a valuable source of protein and moderates global climatic change. Some examples of marine and coastal habitats include mangrove forests; coral reefs; sea grass beds; estuaries in coastal areas; hydrothermal vents; and seamounts and soft sediments on the ocean floor a few kilometres below the surface," it added.

For further information on International Day for Biodiversity and marine life persons may visit the CBD website at http://www.cbd.int/idb/.

carol.gaskin@barbados.gov.bb

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