Watching over our oceans
Chair: Gary Saunders
University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada
The oceans cover nearly three-quarters of our planet’s surface. Their continuity has impeded the development of new species – 99.99 percent of the world’s surface waters are saline but there are more species of freshwater than marine fishes. Even so, the oceans are still home to some 200,000 animal species and perhaps a similar number of protists. It is increasingly clear that chemical pollutants, fisheries and climate change are threatening whole assemblages of marine life but the evaluation of these impacts is impeded by our limited knowledge of species distributions and abundance. The iBOL Marine Bio-Surveillance Working Group is building the barcode reference library needed to deliver a newly sophisticated capacity for monitoring marine life. Access to specimens will be enhanced substantially by the activities of the Census of Marine Life, which has collection programs underway in many regions. iBOL will use this to assemble a barcode library for 100,000 species, a total that will provide coverage for half the world’s marine fauna and macroalgae.