Retrospective on the Census of Marine Life

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) hosted a virtual symposium entitled Observing Life in a Changing Ocean: Exploring a ‘Census of Marine Life’ Today, on January 27, 2021.

The Census of Marine Life was an international program of discovery of life in the ocean, from microbes to whales and from coral reefs to abyssal plains. The Census ran from 2000-2010 and was a model for building collaboration and a global baseline of knowledge of marine diversity, distribution, and abundance.  COL convened the symposium to highlight the need and generate excitement for a sustained, collaborative, and systematic program in marine biodiversity research and observation.  Jesse Ausubel gave an opening 25-minute retrospective on the program beginning 5 minutes 40 seconds into the video.

10th Anniversary of Census of Marine Life

Marking the 10th anniversary of the completion of the first Census of Marine Life, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership organized a virtual symposium 26 January 2021: Observing Life in a Changing Ocean Exploring a Census of Marine Life Today.  Jesse Ausubel gave the opening talk, a 25-minute retrospective on the CoML.  We post a pdf of the slides here.

We highly recommend re-visiting the concluding report of the CoML, Highlights of a Decade of Discovery, and much other material still available at

Passing of Robert A. Frosch

Our great friend and colleague Robert A. Frosch passed away 30 December 2020 at age 92. Jesse Ausubel met Bob in November 1977 at the first meeting of the NASEM Climate Research Board, and we cooperated for the next 40 years. Bob chaired the National Academy of Engineering study group that produced the 1989 book Technology and Environment with the opening essay, Technology and Environment: An Overview by Jesse H. Ausubel, Robert A. Frosch, and Robert Herman. A Remembrance will follow.

eDNA of Red Gate Farm waters, Martha’s Vineyard

At the end of August 2020, Jesse Ausubel sampled 7 locations in parts of what will become the new Squibnocket Pond Reservation (Red Gate Farm) in Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard for the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation (SMF), which will manage the property together with the MV Land Bank. The late fall 2020 SMF newsletter runs a good article by Kate Feiffer about the findings, analyzed by Mark Stoeckle, which include a lot of eel and muskrat DNA and a little bit of black-crowned night heron.

Coverage of eDNA & trawl study

Plenty of fish in the sea? Scientists can now count them using DNA

ABC News One liter of ocean water can not only unlock the recent presence of dozens of species — it can also reveal the relative number of these fish.” and in French, here, and in German, here

Science Magazine, United States Fisheries in a flask? Loose DNA in seawater offers a new measure of marine populations

Agencia EFE, Spain  El análisis del ADN ambiental permite saber el número de peces de los océanos

Tencent, Mainland China New discovery by American scientists: by measuring the DNA in the sea water, you can know how many fish there are in the sea”

COSMOS Magazine, Australia Scientists go fishing for fish DNA-fish-dna/

Anthropocene How many fish are in the sea?

From the Chinese Academy of Sciences / China Science News: New method for marine biological population prediction

Greenreport, Italy Quanti pesci ci sono in mare? Ce lo dice l’eDNA

Seafood Source Cheaper, easier eDNA testing shows similar results to bottom-trawl surveys

Neue Zuricher Zeitung Find what escapes the eye: A new research approach is revolutionizing large parts of biology. Traces of genetic material in the environment provide information about hidden living organisms together with composition of entire species communities, Kurt De Swaaf

Fish abundance survey by eDNA published

The paper Trawl and eDNA assessment of marine fish diversity, seasonality, and relative abundance in coastal New Jersey, USA by Mark Stoeckle, Jason Adolf, Zachary Charlop-Powers, Keith Dunton, Gregory Hinks, and Stacy VanMorter appears today open access in the Journal of Marine Science. A press release summarizes the findings: “Study Proves Bits of DNA in Seawater Correlate to the Weight of Netted Fish; eDNA makes the ocean a sea of biological information.”