Foreword and Introduction
The many Census scientists who contributed to this volume dedicate it to the memory of Alasdair McIntyre, who passed away near its completion. Some of us knew him for many years, while others for only a few, but we all greatly appreciated his wisdom, wit, and perpetual curiosity. His contributions to marine science have been many and he was one of the first to propose an international study of marine biodiversity. Alasdair will be greatly missed.
The Census of Marine Life is about the total richness of the sea: The Census of Marine Life is the book of oceans’ nature. This book reports total richness.
Reflecting upon the successes of the Census of Marine Life over the past decade, I am recalling how my contemporaries and I first became interested in marine biodiversity. As an undergraduate, I had a small National Science Foundation grant to study the macrofaunal invertebrates in samples taken to examine sediment transport processes either side of a sand–mud transition at the edge of the Labrador Current off what is now the Cape Cod National Seashore. The leader of the expedition, John Zeigler, wanted to know how wave activity controlled sediment transport and the location of the transition from sandy to muddy sediments on the seafloor, and Howard Sanders wanted to know what lived either side of this transition. Except for the specimens from Vineyard Sound described by the great naturalist A.E. Verrill, most of the organisms belonged to undescribed species. Subsequently, in graduate school at Duke University, this experience led me to study bottom life either side of another sand–mud transition on the continental slope off North Carolina and, subsequently, to a career identifying and describing the diversity of life on continental shelves and coral reefs and in the deep sea.
Many individuals and organizations have contributed to the production of this book, more than could be fully named. First and foremost must be Jesse Ausubel and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, whose vision and support made the Census of Marine Life possible. The Census Steering Committee was chaired initially by Fred Grassle and later by Ian Poiner,