Census of Marine Life

PLEASE NOTE: New grant proposals are no longer being accepted in this program.
Daniel Costa, University of California Santa Cruz CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A male elephant seal tagged as part of the Census of Marine Life’s Tagging of Pacific Predators (ToPP) project. The effort used state of the art tracking technology to catalog the movements of macrofauna like seals, sharks, and salmon in the Pacific Ocean.

Program Goal

This major international observational program, concluded in 2010, aimed to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life.


Together with more than $550 million from non-Sloan sources around the world, including national governments, international organizations, and maritime industries, the Sloan Foundation committed some $78 million in support of the Census of Marine Life.  Foundation funds supported all 14 Census of Marine Life field projects, helped benchmark current marine populations, created a network to predict the future of marine animal populations, developed the Ocean Biogeographical Information System (containing tens of million records on hundreds of thousands of marine species), and supported the Census' International Scientific Steering Committee and Secretariat, the U.S. National Committee, and an Education and Outreach Network to lift the project’s visibility and engage other nations and organizations. Thousands of scientists from more than 80 nations participated in the project. 

Foundation support culminated with the release of the first ever Census of Marine Life in October, 2010.

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