They claim ocean study has been 'ignored' compared to the land or atmosphere and that as such we know no more about them than the moon.
In addition, scientists say, a greater use of ocean surveillance such as electronic fish tagging and tsunami monitors could also lessen the impact of natural disasters.
'By my estimates for $50-60 million a year the world could have a global system, an ocean tracking network that could follow sharks from Cape Town to Perth or follow tuna from Miami to Southampton,' said Jesse Ausuld, director of the census of marine life, told Reuters news agency.
He said such tracking could give a greater understanding of ocean pollution, climate change and more accurate warnings of disasters such as the cyclone that hit Bangladesh earlier this month and killed 3,500 people or the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in 2004.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist November 2007