Grand finale to decade-long census

The grand finale of the decade-long Census of Marine Life (CoML) was celebrated in London in October.

The CoML program aimed to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of life in the oceans. One of the 14 CoML projects was the Australian-led Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML), which undertook the largest ever survey of the Southern Ocean, coordinating more than 19 voyages and involving more than 300 scientists from 30 countries.

The grand finale — a four-day symposium at the Royal Society and Natural History Museum in London — celebrated the major achievements of CAML. These included:

  • the inventory of 16 500 marine taxa, with hundreds new to science;
  • DNA barcoding of 2500 species;
  • DNA comparison of hundreds of species which appear to inhabit both the Antarctic and Arctic waters;
  • more than 1000 scientific and general publications;
  • online illustrated field guides and pages in the Encyclopaedia of Life; and
  • bioregionalisation data for conservation of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems.

A special issue of Deep Sea Research Part II, featuring papers from a 2009 CAML symposium, is out now. A special volume of the journal Polar Science will be published in mid-2011 and will feature papers from a major CAML voyage.

Data collected during CAML will continue to be deposited in the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research — Marine Biodiversity Information Network data portal, well beyond the conclusion of the official CAML program. This database will be linked to the new Antarctic Biodiversity Information Facility (ANTABIF).

Corporate Communications, Australian Antarctic Division