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Book review: Discoveries of the Census of Marine Life

The Census of Marine Life is undoubtedly one of the most amazing scientific collaborative efforts of all time. All told, thousands of scientists from more than 80 countries participated in the decade-long project. They discovered thousands of new species, published thousands of papers, created and perfected new research techniques, and added countless datapoints to important databases- many of which are free and accessible online.  The story of the COML is nothing short of incredible, and it is told wonderfully in the new book “Discoveries of the Census of Marine Life: Making Ocean Life Count.”

The book, which is equal parts oceanography/marine biology textbook and passionate description of new discoveries, is entertaining as well as educational. Paul Snelgrove manages to take cutting edge science and explain it so that anyone can both understand it and be excited by it. For each discovery of the COML, he explains the background of that field, how the discovery was made, and it’s importance. Additionally, full-color photographs of new species, ocean environments, and research technology complement the text nicely, and a teacher’s edition is available (with many interactive online activities).

The Census may be over, but it’s legacy of large scale cooperative science and explaining important research to the public will, hopefully, live on for a long time. If you want to learn about this incredible project and their amazing discoveries, if you want to be inspired by how smart people came together to solve a huge and important problem, or if you just want to know more about our oceans, Discoveries of the Census of Marine Life is a must-read!