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, 630 kilometers (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, reports AP.
The expedition received funding from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Total Foundation.
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