The Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) investigated the distribution and abundance of Antarctica’s marine biodiversity, how it has been affected by climate change, and how change will alter the nature of the ecosystem services currently provided by the Southern Ocean for the benefit of mankind.


The CAML was a five-year project that focused the attention of the public on the ice-bound oceans of Antarctica during the International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007/08. Its objective was to study the evolution of life in Antarctic waters, to determine how this has influenced the diversity of the present biota, and to use these observations to predict how it might respond to future change. The CAML collaborated with biological oceanographers in its work, for at its heart lies the integrated nature of ecological and biological change.

Polar regions experience greater rates of climate change than elsewhere on the planet. The fauna of the regions are uniquely adapted to the extreme environments in which they exist, and may be vulnerable to shifts in climate. There is an urgent need to establish the state of these communities, and in particular their biodiversity, if we are to understand the impact of climate change. The CAML project integrated knowledge across all regions, biomes, habitats and fields of study to strengthen our knowledge of ecosystem dynamics in this high latitude, frozen ocean system. Only through a multi-scale level of investigation of this type could a better understanding of the diversity and status of Antarctica’s marine life be obtained.

The CAML’s main biodiversity data were collected from 17 research vessels during the IPY. In addition, tourist vessels contributed observations and other ships collected samples using the Continuous Plankton Recorder. The biodiversity data, collected as georeferenced species records, were made available on the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research’s Marine Biodiversity Information Network, now the SCAR Antarctic biodiversity Portal ( for researchers, governments and others concerned with ocean management.

CAML Legacy Documents

In the Framework of CAML a number of sampling protocols were proposed. Below you may find an overview of these protocols.

IPY Data Policy

CAML IPY Data Policy   (PDF)

Benthic Sampling





Pelagic Sampling