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The Canadian Register of Marine Species

In spring 2009, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ National Science Data Management Committee (DFO-NSDMC) created a national activity with the mandate to promote the use of taxonomic standards within the Science Branch of DFO and to develop and implement best-practice procedures for the quality control of biological names used by DFO.

The largest global standard for aquatic species names is the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS). The objective of WoRMS is to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms, including information on synonymy. The thematic regional node for Canada, the Canadian Register of Marine Species (CaRMS) encompasses the marine component of the master register in WoRMS. The taxonomic scope of CaRMS will be to cover species from the three realms of the ocean: the seafloor (meio-, macro- and megazoobenthos; micro- and macrophytobenthos), the water column (phytoplankton, zooplankton, nekton) and the sea-ice.

CaRMS contains detailed distribution records for taxa found in three oceans: the Atlantic, the Arctic and the Pacific. CaRMS grew from local registers of marine species, such as the Northwest Atlantic Register of Marine Species (NWARMS) and the Gulf of Maine Register of Marine Species (GoMRMS), compiled by the Atlantic Reference Centre of the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

Two special features available on the CaRMS site are a series of regional checklists and a photogallery of taxa observed in Canadian waters.

The intent of CaRMS is not to duplicate WoRMS. Users are referred to the WoRMS site ( if they wish to search for taxonomic and/or global distribution information on specific taxa. CaRMS was also not designed to track changes in taxonomy. Each record in the register contains a standard code that enables linkage to master databases of WoRMS (AphiaID and the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS TSN). Issues related to synonymy, validity and taxonomic hierarchy will be dealt with by these organizations. The WoRMS web site is hosted by the Flanders Marine Institute, Belgium (VLIZ).

Basking shark, author: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Shark Research Lab, Steven Campana
Chaetognatha, author: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Jean-François St-Pierre
Buccinum ciliatum, author: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Claude Nozčres
Crangon, author: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Melisa Wong

VLIZ has provided CaRMS data management support and services through their connection with WoRMS. VLIZ hosts the CaRMS website and provides the tools on the CaRMS web page that enable the user:

  • to create authoritative checklists of taxa for geographical areas of interest to Canadian research.
  • to extract enriched metadata such as standard/master codes (the WoRMS AphiaID, the ITIS TSN), obtain valid/accepted synonym names and associated taxonomic hierarchy.
  • to provide a list of authoritative literature associated with taxa distribution.
  • to display the statistics related to the taxonomic coverage of the register.
  • to access and contribute to a photo gallery for images of taxa included in our database collections.

The web page log-in feature is only accessible to CaRMS editors.


The CaRMS editors maintain this register but are aware that this may not be complete and may contain errors. The editors cannot be held responsible for any errors or misuse of data contained in these registers. Comments from our users are more than welcome, so if you come across incorrect or incomplete information, or you are willing to contribute to this initiative, please contact


Usage of data from the Canadian Register of Marine Species in scientific publications should be acknowledged by citing as follows:

  • Nozères, C., Kennedy, M.K. (Eds.) (2024). Canadian Register of Marine Species. Accessed at on 2024-06-19. doi:10.14284/588
If the data from the Canadian Register of Marine Species constitute a substantial proportion of the records used in analyses, the chief editor(s) of the database should be contacted. There may be additional data which may prove valuable to such analyses.

Individual pages are individually authored and dated. These can be cited separately: the proper citation is provided at the bottom of each page.


Branton, R.; Bajona, L.; Bond, S.; Kennedy, M.; Ricard, D.; Van Guelpen, L., 2007. Methods for standardizing, validating and enriching taxonomic metadata. NAFO SCR document 07/08 8 pp.

DFO. 2009. Proceedings of the DFO Taxonomic Standards Workshop; 16-17 January 2008. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Proceed. Ser. 2009/021.

Kennedy, Mary and Lenore Bajona. 2009. A data manager’s guide to marine taxonomic code lists. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2827: iii + 23 pp.

Van Guelpen, L. and M.K. Kennedy. 2011. The history of Canadian registers of marine species 2001-2009. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2906: iv + 20 p.

Kennedy, M.K., Nozères, C., Miller, R., Vanhoorne, B. and Appeltans, W. 2011. The Canadian Register of Marine Species Photo Gallery: A User's Guide, Version 1. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2933: v + 47 pp. [IMIS]



Board of Editors

  • Claude Nozères, DFO, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Mont-Joli, QC
  • Mary Kennedy, DFO, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, NS (retired)
  • Bart Vanhoorne, VLIZ, Flanders Marine Institute, Oostende, Belgium
  • Wim Decock, VLIZ, Flanders Marine Institute, Oostende, Belgium
Website and databases developed and hosted by VLIZ · Page generated 2024-06-19 GMT · contact: