Census of Marine Life network

The Census of Marine Life (CoML) 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.

As part of its global goals, the Census of Marine Life is committed to strengthening support for marine biodiversity research at the national or regional level that will continue after the CoML has concluded. Following in the footsteps of other successful global research programs, several nations and groups of nations have brought together regional CoML stakeholders, such as researchers, government and non-government agencies, and resource managers, to assess the status of knowledge of marine biodiversity in their waters. In many cases, these assessments led to the organization of National or Regional Implementation Committees (NRICs) to implement more local programs and improve the geographic scope of CoML and its projects. By engaging scientists, funding agencies, policy-makers and the broad user community, these national and regional committees identify their research and data priorities for marine biodiversity and find ways to make them happen by building partnerships, exploring funding opportunities for local science, and promoting CoML to local audiences. The committees work under the umbrella of the CoML and the guidance of the international Scientific Steering Committee.

Census of Marine Life Australia

Australia established a National Census of Marine Life Committee in 2003 under the chairmanship of Ian Cresswell. Its current chairman is Nic Bax, CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research in Hobart, Tasmania. CoML Australia is a National or Regional Implementation Committee for the global Census of Marine Life project.


  • The CoML Australia initiative supports the concept of making data and information more widely available and provides other opportunities for adding value in the marine research field.
  • The information collected through this initiative will contribute to building a clearer picture of marine life within the Australian region.
  • CoML Australia seeks to address information gaps in the oceans with particular projects focused on the relatively unexplored deeper waters.
  • The North-west and North-east regions of Australia have been identified as priority areas for further exploration.

Annual Reports

2004 (background paper)