The Census of Marine Life is a global network of researchers in more than 80 nations engaged in a 10-year scientific initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans. The world’s first comprehensive Census of Marine Life – past, present, and future – will be released in 2010.The stated purpose of the Census of Marine Life is to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life. Each plays an important role in what is known, unknown, and may never be known about what lives in the global ocean.Second, distribution. The Census aims to produce maps where the animals have been observed or where they could live, that is, the territory or range of the species. Knowing the range matters a lot for people concerned about, for example, possible consequences of global climate change.
Third, abundance. No Census is complete without measures of abundance. They want to know not only that there is such a thing as a Madagascar crab but how many there are. For marine life, populations are being estimated either in numbers or in total kilos, called biomass. Census researchers undertook the challenge of constructing the history of marine animal populations since human predation became important, roughly the last 500 years. This program component is called History of Marine Animal Populations (HMAP).The largest component of the Census involves investigating what now lives in the world’s oceans through 14 field projects. Each is sampling important kinds of biota in one of six realms of the global oceans using a range of technologies. The Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research Technology Panel monitors new technologies for observing marine life and recommends when cutting-edge marine technologies are mature enough to be used routinely in Census field projects.
For more information, please visit http://www.coml.org