Filling a Critical Need

The ocean’s diverse marine life provides us with food, livelihoods, recreation, and inspiration. But our seas are changing rapidly, and we don’t fully understand the consequences.

MarineGEO is the first and only network of worldwide coastal observation and research sites to focus on understanding changes at the land-sea interface, where marine life is most abundant and human effects and demands on that life are highest. TMON directs and coordinates the research efforts of these sites and is also responsible for establishing new partner sites around the world.

Existing ocean observation efforts tend to focus on the open ocean or on physical and chemical characteristics. The MarineGEO initiative fills a critical void with its unique focus on:

  • The coastal zone, where people and marine life are concentrated
  • Biodiversity and the factors that create resilience to stressors
  • Systematic data collection over a long time span
  • Integration of multiple scientific disciplines to understand biodiversity and ecosystem function
  • Experiments to help us truly understand the drivers of change.

The initiative will employ long-term standardized observations and experiments to build the first comprehensive database on the coastal ocean’s physical characteristics and biodiversity, making new scientific discoveries possible.

With new data and increased understanding of ocean health, TMON can provide policy makers and resource managers with the most current scientific information to sustain and restore the resilience of coastal ecosystems.

To address this critical need and data gap, a generous gift from Smithsonian National Board Member Michael E. Tennenbaum and his wife, Suzanne, helped the Smithsonian launch the central infrastructure and the core sites of the network.