Scattered, sparse and often only available on dusty library shelves, information about biodiversity in Iran–especially on marine taxa–is challenging to discover and access. With very high maritime traffic in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, standardized and easy to access data about marine diversity in these waters is needed.
Compiling all available biodiversity data records from books, academic dissertations, research articles and open databases–OBIS and GBIF–authors from Teheran review the current knowledge of marine taxa in Iranian southern seas. They extract a total of almost 60,000 records, which after rigorous quality control turn out to cover more than 3,300 species–ranging from phytoplankton to whales–more than twice previously predicted. More than 60 per cent of the records belong to Animalia, while Chromista and Plantae are also well-represented. Fungi, Protozoa and Bacteria together, represent less than one per cent.
Concluding that long-term availability of data is important for conservation, the authors call for increased training in marine research and for the establishment of a national marine biodiversity facility with international partnerships.