In 2013, a group led by researchers at the Natural History Museum in London used the then-Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego Research Vessel Melville to travel to the Central Pacific Ocean in search of new marine organisms. They collected many new species not described by science–so many, in fact, that they decided to come up with a naming system that consisted of randomizing the list of everyone aboard the vessel, including crew-members.
The names chosen in the first round were used in a series of taxonomic papers published in October 2019 in ZooKeys.
The estimated number of undiscovered species in the ocean ranges from a few hundred thousand to more than 10 million, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. As of today, there are now 12 new species of polychaete worms, also known as bristle worms, a type of marine worm found at depths of 4,000 meters (13,100 feet). These new species were discovered in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) west of Mexico. Four are named after people who were members of the crew on that cruise: Ophelina juhazi (top left) after oiler Bob Juhazi, Ophelina curli (top right) after seaman Cassidy Curl, Oligobregma whaleyi (bottom left) after able seaman Jeremy Whaley, and Ammotrypanella keenani (bottom right) after bosun Edward Keenan.
These men will “go down permanently in history books by having a formal species named after them,” said Adrian Glover, a life sciences researcher from the Natural History Museum in London who devised the plan for naming the worms.
Furthermore, the crew members felt honored by the privilege and have expressed their excitement over the matter.
“As the son of a mariner, and a lapsed deckhand myself, I couldn’t be more stoked to lay claim to a small piece of the ocean. Now I just need to swim down and meet the thing!” said seaman Cassidy Curl, who is the son of Scripps Oceanography vessel captain Chris Curl.