The extent of overall diversity in the seas is still up for debate, with estimates ranging from 600,000 to more than 9 million species, not including bacteria. Of those species, somewhere between a third and a quarter live in and among reefs.
To get a better count on the variety of underwater life, Knowlton and colleagues chose to focus on crustaceans. This group -- which includes lobsters, crabs and shrimps -- is the second most diverse coral-dwelling community after mollusks. Crustaceans are well described by science. And they come in a surprising array of knockout styles.
"They're gorgeous, they're just beautiful," Knowlton said. "A lot of them have spectacular colors and cool shapes. Some are iridescent. That's my favorite part of the work, just looking at them one by one."
Marine Reserves Pick Up Pace of Ocean Protection