Specimens of newly discovered marine species found by a joint Filipino-French research project were turned over to the Philippine National Museum on Monday.
"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.
At a press conference, Bouchet added that "these are the first new species that have been authenticated, recognized and described by scientists, but I would say there are lot more in the pipeline.”
The expedition team said its survey suggested more than 1,200 new species of decapod crustaceans — a group that includes crayfish, crabs, lobsters and shrimps — and some 6,000 species of mollusks.
Some 80 scientists, technicians, students and volunteers from 19 countries surveyed waters around Panglao Island, 390 miles southeast of Manila from 2004-2005.
"Scientists up until the 1980s believed that somehow they had more or less finished the inventory of the species on this planet," Bouchet added. "The major discovery of the 1980s was to realize that, no, we are far from it. Maybe we know most species of mammals, most species of birds on this planet, but when it comes to invertebrates in the sea, when it comes to insects in the rainforest, we realized that there were many that we didn’t know.”
The Philippines is located in what's known as the “coral triangle,” an area that contains the highest number of marine species known.
The researchers noted that Panglao alone is higher in biodiversity than much larger regions. The Mediterranean, for example, has just 340 known species of decapods and 2,024 species of mollusks.
To further the research, a five-year-program to explore the Philippines' deep-water fauna was announced at Monday's ceremony.
The expedition received funding from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Total Foundation.