The Caribbean Region
The Census of Marine Life is committed to strengthening support for marine biodiversity research at the national or regional level. In this sense, several countries have either organized nationally or joined together regionally. Such organization was carried out by engaging scientists, funding agencies, conservation organizations, managers and policy makers within the Census of Marine Life umbrella and the guidance of the international Scientific Steering Committee.
The Caribbean Sea, located between 9-22ºN and 89-60ºW has an extent of approximately 1,063,000 square miles or 2,754,000 km². Within the region, there are 35 politically independent countries and territories, each of them with specific sovereignty claims and marine conservation management strategies. As such, many issues require bilateral, regional or global collaboration. Given its location, it is considered a unique biogeographic region with species found nowhere else. Its complex geological history starting 130 millions of years ago and the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama in the Pliocene (around 3.0 to 2.8 Ma) had major effects on marine biodiversity. The isolation of the tropical American ocean into two different realms produced isolation and environmental change which resulted in increased evolutionary divergence and radiation of species living today in extensive coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, deep shelf ecosystems and partially isolated deep basins and trenches.
Historically, humans can be traced back in the Caribbean over six millennia, however it is in the last 3 to 4 decades that this region has suffered a tremendous impact from anthropogenic activities: overfishing, pollution and eutrophication, sediment run-off, diseases (coral bleaching and mass mortalities of invertebrates), habitat loss and colonization by invasive species among other problems.
Given the richness and complexity in terms of history, culture, ecosystem and species diversity characterizing the Caribbean, as well as the environmental problems it is facing, it is a desirable goal to encourage regional collaboration, establish a baseline of available information and discuss future projects and actions within the umbrella of an international large scale program such as the Census of Marine Life.
CoML National and regional committees