Guido Poppe
Bullit Marquez  /  AP
Belgian Guido Poppe of the Conchology Inc., holds a very rare seashell of the Slit shell family, which he discovered early 2006 off Balut Island in southern Philippines.
updated 2/5/2007 8:40:43 PM ET 2007-02-06T01:40:43

A French-led marine expedition team believes it has discovered thousands of new species of mollusks and crustaceans around a Philippine island, officials and scientists announced Monday.

Some 80 scientists, technicians, students and volunteers from 19 countries surveyed waters around Panglao island, 390 miles southeast of Manila from 2004-2005.

The Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project turned over to the Philippine National Museum on Monday more than a hundred holotypes or representative specimen of the rare finds, officials said.

"Numerous species were observed and photographed alive, many for the first time, and it is estimated that 150-250 of the crustaceans and 1,500-2,500 of the mollusks are new species," said a statement from the expedition team, which was led by Philippe Bouchet of the French National Museum of Natural History.

"However, it requires a thorough comparison with all previously named species to ascertain if a novel species is indeed new to science," it added. "This is a slow and tedious process."

The expedition team said its survey revealed over 1,200 species of decapod crustaceans — a group that includes crayfish, crabs, lobsters and shrimps — and some 6,000 species of mollusks.

The expedition received funding from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Total Foundation.

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