I've written about the Census before, but this article by the always-excellent Nicholas Wade in the NYT introduces us to the little-known founder of this monumentally successful effort to catalog marine species around the world (finding some 6,000 new ones). Jesse H. Ausubel of Rockefeller University and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation created the Census of Marine Life program in 2000. The program grew to an effort involving 540 ships and costing $650M. And one of the most interesting things we learned is that this mammoth feat of global cooperation didn't complete the job: as Census scientists found new species everywhere they looked, the vast sections of the deep they haven't sampled yet undoubtedly hold many more. Hats off to Mr. Ausubel, a true hero of science and conservation.
Another of his projects is bringing together descriptions of every known species from every environment around the world. Visit the Encyclopedia of Life: