Census of Marine Life, an international program (2001–2010) to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of living organisms in the oceans. A project involving more than 2,700 scientists and some 80 nations, the census was directed by an international scientific steering committee, subcommittees, and national and regional committees. In addition to coordinating field surveys, which discovered more than 6,000 possibly new species, the census produced the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) to manage the database that resulted; OBIS is now maintained by UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Historical research was also undertaken to provide an understanding of the past diversity and distribution of marine species. The secretariat for the project was at the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, Washington, D.C.
See A. D. McIntyre, Life in the World's Oceans (2010), P. V. R. Snelgrove, Discoveries of the Census of Marine Life (2010).