DATABASE: Confluence of Ocean Info

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Science  29 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5599, pp. 1685
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5599.1685a

Data on marine species can be as widely scattered and hard to locate as giant squid. Simplifying the search, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) lets you trawl 12 marine databases for collection records. You can merge geographic information from storehouses such as CephBase (which focuses on squid and their kin), FishBase, and FishNet and from collections on crustaceans, coral, and plankton. However, coverage is still spotty. Search for “barracuda,” for instance, and you'll get a long list of records that includes the longitude and latitude of barracuda catches in the late 1700s, but nothing more recent. OBIS's creators plan to link to more databases and to incorporate environmental measurements. The project is part of the international Census of Marine Life, whose goal is to compile a complete catalog of marine species, their distribution, and their abundance.

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