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OBIS was established by the Census of Marine Life program ( It is an evolving strategic alliance of people and organizations sharing a vision to make marine biogeographic data, from all over the world, freely available over the World Wide Web. It is not a project or program, and is not limited to data from CoML-related projects. Any organization, consortium, project or individual may contribute to OBIS. OBIS provides, on an ‘open access’ basis through the World Wide Web:
  • taxonomically and geographically resolved data on marine life and the ocean environment;
  • interoperability with similar databases;
  • software tools for data exploration and analysis.
OBIS was one of the earliest Associate Members of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility ( which publishes data on all species. OBIS is a very active participant in GBIF activities, and one of the largest publishers of data to GBIF, reflecting its role as a specialist network for marine species. GBIF recommends that marine data are first published through OBIS, because OBIS can add special value (e.g. depth) and will manage the subsequent publication of data through GBIF. This also avoids duplication of data being separately published to GBIF and OBIS.

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