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Preserving marine biodiversity for the sake of cognitive benefits is important. New marine species and even entire communities continue to be discovered. Hydrothermal vents were discovered only in 1976 after an expedition on the Alvin submersible. Concurrent with recent marine ecosystem discoveries is the detection of new species. In the open ocean, a group of marine free-living bacterial primary producers (prochlorophytes) were not discovered until the late 1980s, despite that fact that they account for almost 40% of the chlorophyll in some ocean areas. Little is presently known about marine microbes but molecular techniques are gradually assisting science in understanding these very integral components of marine food webs. Microbes are extremely essential in the biogeochemical cycling of many nutrients and they are responsible for much of the recycling of organic matter in the sea.

There is so much that we believe we understand when in reality, our current knowledge is in its infancy. For example, it has recently been discovered that many marine organisms initially thought to belong to one species often turn out to be actually of more than one. The marine worm Capitella, which has previously been used as an indicator of pollution impact, is actually 15 or more sibling species. Erroneous grouping of species can have many implications for our understanding of their ecology and could result in inaccurate estimations of commercial resources. This has already occurred with the Spanish mackerel, Scomberomorus maculates, now known to be two species, which mature at different ages and sizes.

Discovery of new species and of species' characteristics can provide new information of use to technological development. For example, research on the sea mouse, Aphrodite, showed that its spines have a remarkable capacity for reflecting light, a property that may be of use in the development of new communication technologies.