Florida's Nova Southeastern University announced yesterday that they're giving an opportunity to the general public to bid for the naming rights of the newly discovered and extremely rare species of sea lily, courtesy of the University's professor and its discoverer, Dr Charles Messing.

Currently, the scientific community identifies only about 110 species of sea lilies worldwide, all of which are restricted to deep water, making them extremely rare. In spite of its plant-like appearance and its name, the sea lily in question is an animal, related to sea stars.

Upon discovery of his new find, Dr Messing decided to auction the naming rights on eBay, giving the opportunity to anyone worldwide to name this rare specimen, while funding the University's Oceanographic Centre, where Messing teaches.

While the scientific community is no stranger to selling naming rights in order to fund their efforts, especially for creatures such as butterflies or beetles, there are tens of thousands of such species in the world, putting naming this sea lily, as a very unique opportunity.

The bid was opened by the University at a modest $4,000, citing that naming rights for other, more common species, go anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000. 
Although naming rights aren't new, and are frequently used to fund different organizations, having the opportunity to name a brand new species might be that much more appealing to the public.

While this might seem as something that would spark a great interest from the general public in naming the newly discovered species, sea lilies are not something that is seen or commonly discussed outside of the academic circles. Arguably, other academics who might be interested in marine life and the new discovery might not be interested in buying the naming rights of species discovered by their colleagues.

The money from bid is set to go to support the marine biodiversity research expeditions around the world as well as aiding the graduate student research at NSU. For those with extra cash, it might be an effort to chisel themselves into the marine life history, or just a very unique present for someone close to them. The naming rights winner will be revealed upon the closure of the bid on eBay.

The auction and it will close on 22nd December 2014. #Science