Study of past ocean life hints at large potential capacity
The oceans’ good old days may have been even better than biologists thought.
That’s the picture emerging from an effort to reconstruct the history of marine populations using what environmental historian Poul Holm of Trinity College Dublin calls “eclectic methods.” Mining for data in old ships’ logs, tax records, travelers’ journals and even ancient Greek and Roman poetry is providing clues to the life of oceans past.
Holm chairs the historical arm of the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year international research collaboration due to publish a final report in 2010. Researchers trying to piec