WoRMS banner
Add search provider Add provider
Twitter: Latest updates @WRMarineSpecies

Towards a World Register of Marine Species

The aim of a World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) is to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms, including information on synonymy. While highest priority goes to valid names, other names in use are included so that this register can serve as a guide to interpret taxonomic literature.

The content of WoRMS is controlled by taxonomic experts, not by database managers. WoRMS has an editorial management system where each taxonomic group is represented by an expert who has the authority over the content, and is responsible for controlling the quality of the information. Each of these main taxonomic editors can invite several specialists of smaller groups within their area of responsibility to join them.

This register of marine species grew out of the European Register of Marine Species (ERMS), and its combination with several other species registers maintained at the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). Rather than building separate registers for all projects, and to make sure taxonomy used in these different projects is consistent, VLIZ developed a consolidated database called ‘Aphia’. A list of marine species registers included in Aphia is available below. MarineSpecies.org is the web interface for this database. The WoRMS is an idea that is being developed, and will combine information from Aphia with other authoritative marine species lists which are maintained by others (e.g. AlgaeBase, FishBase)

Resources to build MarineSpecies.org and Aphia were provided mainly by the EU Network of Excellence ‘Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning’ (MarBEF), and also by the EU funded Species 2000 Europe and ERMS projects.

Aphia contains valid species names, synonyms and vernacular names, and extra information such as literature and biogeographic data. Besides species names, Aphia also contains the higher classification in which each scientific name is linked to its parent taxon. The classification used is a ‘compromise’ between established systems and recent changes. Its aim is to aid data management, rather than suggest any taxonomic or phylogenetic opinion on species relationships.

Keeping WoRMS up-to-date is a continuous process. New information is entered daily by the taxonomic editors and by the members of our data management team. Often data also come in from contributions of large datasets, such as global or regional species lists. No database of this size is without errors and omissions. We can’t promise to make no errors, but we do promise to follow up and give feedback on any communications pointing out errors. Feedback is very welcome!

Who is using WoRMS?

An overview of who is using WoRMS and how WoRMS relates to other international species initiatives is available on our users webpage.

Editorial board

The list of taxonomic experts can be found on the editors page. Go to map to view were the editors are located.
Please contact us at info@marinespecies.org if you have any questions or want to contribute to this initiative.

Steering Committee (SC)

Horton, Tammy (chair) · last elected - 2015
University of Southampton; National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems, UK
Kroh, Andreas (vice-chair) · last elected - 2016
Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria
Ahyong, Shane · last elected - 2017
Australian Museum; Marine Invertebrates, Australia
Bailly, Nicolas · last elected - 2015
Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece
Boury-Esnault, Nicole · last elected - 2015
Retired, France
Brandão, Simone-N. · last elected - 2016
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte; Departamento de Geologia; Laboratorio de Geologia e Geofisica Marinha e Monitoramento Ambiental, Brasil
Costello, Mark J. · last elected - 2016
University of Auckland; Leigh Marine Laboratory, New Zealand
Gofas, Serge · last elected - 2016
University of Málaga; Faculty of Sciences; Departamento de Biología Animal, Spain
Hernandez, Francisco (ex officio, datamanager, substitute: Leen Vandepitte)
Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee, Belgium
Mees, Jan · last elected - 2016
Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee, Belgium
Paulay, Gustav · last elected - 2017
University of Florida; Florida Museum of Natural History, USA
Poore, Gary C.B. · last elected - 2015
Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
Rosenberg, Gary · last elected - 2016
Drexel University; Academy of Natural Sciences, USA

Data Management Team (DMT)

View the current Data Management Team (DMT) members at the Flanders Marine Institute, Belgium

Support to editors
The Data Management Team gives support both on the technical and content side of the database. The DMT can upload bulk information into the database and run specific queries to help identify gaps or issues for editors to deal with. In addition, the DMT also does online editing upon request of the editors. An online manual provides background information on how editors can work with the online editing interface. The DMT is always stand-by to help editors with the use of this interface. Additionally, the DMT may develop new tools and features that enhance the data entry.

Support to users
Through info@marinespecies.org, the DMT is receiving a lot of questions such as: requests to identify encountered species during field or diving trips, the removal of duplicates, reporting errors in the database, etc...
The DMT works as a filter between our users and the editors, to avoid an overload of emails for our editors. The DMT also manages the distribution of the monthly downloads and deals with custom-tailored user requests regarding extraction of content from the database. In addition, it provides exports of the database to numerous other initiatives.

IT developments
New technical developments mostly take place in the framework of projects or link to initiatives within the WoRMS community. The DMT provides a continuous technical support to the many users of WoRMS, including fixing minor bugs brought to our attention, help in modifying web service client scripts and help in setting up batch upload of information (e.g. images, deep links, ...). The WoRMS database is archived every month and you may request a copy in compliance with the terms and conditions as outlined the request form. If you are interested in the structure of the database, we have created a view at WoRMS structure.


WoRMS maintenance and development relies on financial contributions, the time contributed by its editorial board, and support of its host institution VLIZ. Find out more at "how to fund WoRMS?".

Terms of Use and Citation

Unless otherwise stated, these web pages and associated information are free to use on condition that they are cited (CC-BY). A recommended citation style is provided on each page. We do not permit the re-distribution of the entire database unless by prior written agreement.

In exceptional cases copies of the database may be provided (using this form), after assessment by the WoRMS Steering Committee representatives and the Data Management Team. Data downloads consist of the taxonomic data only and do not include additional data (distributions, traits, etc.). We strongly encourage the use of the webservices provided instead of data requests since only the former will guarantee continuous updates.

You can also cite the individual global or regional species lists as appropriate. Their citations are shown on their web pages.

The database as a whole is to be cited as follows:

WoRMS Editorial Board (2017). World Register of Marine Species. Available from http://www.marinespecies.org at VLIZ. Accessed 2017-10-18. doi:10.14284/170

[full citation]

Citations (Google scholar)

Citations for "World Register of Marine Species":


[view publications]
WoRMS integrates:
Global Species Databases (GSD)

With an interface
World List of Amphipoda
World List of Ascidiacea
World List of Asteroidea
World List of Cetacea
World List of Copepoda
World List of Cumacea
World List of Diplopoda (MilliBase)
World List of Echinoidea
World List of Foraminifera
World List of Hemichordata
World List of Hydrozoa
World List of Isopoda
World List of Lophogastrida, Stygiomysida and Mysida
World List of Mangroves
World List of Mollusca (MolluscaBase)
World List of littoral Myriapoda
World List of Nemertea
World List of free-living marine Nematodes (NeMys)
World List of Ophiuroidea
World List of Ostracoda
World List of Placozoa
World List of Polychaeta
World List of Porifera
World List of Proseriata and Kalyptorhynchia - Rhabditophora
World List of Pycnogonida
World List of Remipedia
World List of Tardigrada

Without an interface
World List of Acanthocephala
World List of Acarina (marine)
World List of Achelata
World List of Anomura
World List of Appendicularia
World List of Aspidogastrea
World List of Astacidea
World List of Axiidea
World List of Bochusacea
World List of Brachypoda
World List of Brachyura
World List of Branchiopoda (marine & brackish)
World List of Caridea
World List of Carnivora (marine)
World List of Ceriantharia
World List of Chaetognatha
World List of Ciliophora
World List of Cubozoa
World List of Dendrobranchiata
World List of Echiura
World List of Euphausiacea
World List of Gebiidea
World List of Gnathostomulida
World List of Hexacorallia (Actiniaria)
World List of Hirudinea (marine)
World List of Holothuroidea
World List of Insecta (marine)
World List of Leptostraca
World List of Loricifera
World List of Merostomata
World List of Mesozoa
World List of Monogenea
World List of Mystacocarida
World List of Nematomorpha
World List of Octocorallia
World List of Oligochaeta (marine)
World List of Pennatulacea
World List of Polychelida
World List of Polyplacophora
World List of Radiozoa
World List of Rhizocephala
World List of Scaphopoda
World List of Scyphozoa
World List of sea birds
World List of Sipuncula
World List of Sirenia
World List of Solenogastres
World List of Staurozoa
World List of Stenopodidea
World List of Tanaidacea
World List of Tantulocarida
World List of Thaliacea
World List of Thermosbaenacea

Under construction
Alcyonacea, Branchiura, Gorgonacea, Helioporacea, Thecostraca, Crinoidea, Digenea, Entoprocta, Gastrotricha, Myxozoa, Myodocopa, Scleractinia, Zoanthidea, Cirripedia, Decapoda, Platyhelminthes, AnnelidaBase

Regional Species Databases (RSD) [map]

With an interface
African Register of Marine Species (AfReMaS)
Arctic Register of Marine Species (ARMS)
Belgian Register of Marine Species (BeRMS)
Canadian Register of Marine Species (CaRMS)
European Register of Marine Species (ERMS)
Marine Species of the British Isles and Adjacent Seas (MSBIAS)
North Atlantic Register for Marine Species (NARMS)
Register of Antarctic Marine Species (RAMS)
Hong Kong Register of Marine Species (HKRMS)
Chinese Register of Marine Species (ChaRMS)

Under construction
Scheldt checklist
Register of Antarctic Species (RAS)

As a reference
Checklist Azores
Checklist Greece
Checklist Iberian
Checklist Ireland
Checklist Israel
Checklist Poland
Checklist Sweden
Gulf of Mexico Register of Marine Species
New Zealand Register of Marine Species (volume I)

Thematic Species Databases (TSD)

ICES North Sea Benthos Project (NSBP)
IOC-UNESCO Taxonomic Reference List of Harmful Micro Algae (HAB)
Macrobenthos of the Belgian Continental Shelf (MACROBEL)
Unesco Register of Marine Organisms (URMO)
World Register of Deep-Sea Species (WoRDSS)
Freshwater Gastropods of the European Neogene (FreshGEN)
World Register of Marine Introduced Species (WRIMS)
Marine Species Traits
World Register of marine Cave Species (WoRCS)

Under construction

External Global Species Databases

World List of Algae (marine), from AlgaeBase
World List of Bryozoa (recent and fossil), from Recent and Fossil Bryozoa
World List of Ctenophora, from Phylum Ctenophora: list of all valid species names
World List of Fungi (marine), from Index Fungorum
World List of Pisces (marine), from FishBase
World List of Reptiles (marine), from The Reptile Database
World List of Rotifers (marine), from FADA
World List of Turbellaria, from Turbellarian Taxonomic Database
World List of Viruses (marine), from International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)

Note to users

The WoRMS Editorial Board maintains this register, but is aware that the content can have omissions and errors.
If you come across any error or incomplete information or you are willing to contribute to this initiative, please contact us at info@marinespecies.org.

© WoRMS Editorial Board. The text on the WoRMS pages is open-access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use provided it is cited as requested on the WoRMS webpages, unless stated otherwise on the individual pages.

Images are by default open-access under the terms of the CC BY-NC-SA license, unless stated otherwise.