Next time you feel overwhelmed by how many birds there are in the world and how much work it is to keep track of them, be thankful that you’re more interested in feathered flyers than scaly swimmers. According to the Associated Press, an ongoing Census of Marine Life, the first effort of its kind, is discovering three new fish species a week on average and predicts that as many as 5,000 unknown fish species may be lurking undetected.

There are currently 15,304 known species of fish and 194,696 to 214,696 other species of marine animals and plants. This is estimated to represent roughly 10 percent of the world’s total. At their current rate of discovery, scientists expect that the totals will come to about 20,000 species of fish and up to 1.98 million species of animals and plants. Many of those could be basic life forms, such as worms and jellyfish.

So before you trade in your scopes for scuba gear, consider the numbers. Even if you stick to fish alone, you’ll have to contend with twice as many piscine species as avian. Add dolphins or crustaceans to the mix and you’re really in trouble. I don’t even want to know how big the field guides must be!

Here’s hoping that the majority of avian species are already accounted for. We think that ‘10,000 birds’ sounds about right, don’t you?

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.