The scientific framework of the Census of Marine Life comprises a global information system assimilating data and information from field projects investigating what now lives in six ocean realms (Human Edges, Hidden Boundaries, Central Waters, Active Geology, Ice Oceans, and Microbe) and projects designed to investigate the history of marine animal populations and to forecast the future of marine populations and ecosystems.


Central Waters

Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ)

The Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ) was a global, taxonomically comprehensive biodiversity assessment of animal plankton, including ~6,800 described species in fifteen phyla.

Active Geology

Global Census of Marine Life on Seamounts (CenSeam)

A global study of seamount ecosystems, that helped determine their role in the biogeography, biodiversity, productivity, and evolution of marine organisms, and evaluated the effects of human exploitation.

Biogeography of Deep-Water Chemosynthetic Ecosystems (ChEss)

A global study of the biogeography of deep-water chemosynthetic ecosystems and the processes that drive them.

Ice Oceans

Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML)

The Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) surveyed the cold Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica in an attempt to understand the biological diversity of this unique and poorly understood environment.

Arctic Ocean Diversity (ArcOD)

An international collaborative effort that inventoried biodiversity in the Arctic sea ice, water column and sea floor from the shallow shelves to the deep basins using a three-step approach: compilation of existing data, taxonomic identification of existing samples, and new collections focusing on taxonomic and regional gaps.


International Census of Marine Microbes (ICoMM)

Built a cyberinfrastructure to index and organize what is known about microbes, the world's smallest organisms, which account for 90 percent of biomass in oceans.

Oceans Past and Future

Future of Marine Animal Populations (FMAP)

The Future of Marine Animal Populations (FMAP) was a network of scientists within the Census of Marine Life that tried to understand the past, present and future of marine life.

History of Marine Animal Populations (HMAP)

An interdisciplinary research program that used historical and environmental archives to analyze marine population data before and after human impacts on the ocean became significant.