Marine life census

doi:10.1038/nindia.2009.323 Published online 31 October 2009

Complete with DNA 'barcodes', a new database of India's marine life is now available on the internet.

The database lists at least 15,000 species from India's coasts and has handy DNA fingerprints of the listed marine life. Barcoding is the most scientific way to identify species in changing environments or tracking environmental pollution.

The Indian Ocean Census of Marine Life (IO-CoML), part of the global Census of Marine Life (CoML)to be out in 2010, enumerates life forms in the sea helping in closely analysing the past, present and future. The project is expected to barcode nearly 3,000 species from India.

The global census has 18 programmes and include looking at the census of marine life forms, analysing ecosystems and examining biodiversity of continental slopes. It has already added 5,600 new species to the inventory of marine life.

The India census is being executed by the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa.

In its early days, the Indian programme has created the most comprehensive inventory of marine and estuarine species in the Indian Ocean — the Indian Ocean Biogeographical Information System.