While the existence of life elsewhere in the universe is being debated, our planet brims with life. Whatever was the mechanism that produced the primordial cell leading to the evolution of planet and animal kingdoms, man's gratitude to nature best be expressed through efforts for sustenance of the various varieties of life. The reports of extinction, from human interference, of some varieties of animal forms, brings to the fore the need for collection and dissemination of information on life forms. This led to the birth of BIOINFORMATICS.
Information flow on the biodiversity of oceans is vital as some marine plants/organisms may perish due to increasing population, pollution and climate change. The seas bordering India are rich in diverse biota. Unfortunately, the information available on ecologically and economically important genera/species is minimal and scattered. The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa has been making efforts to collect and manage the data on the biodiversity of our coastal waters for the last three decades. The Bioinformatics Centre at this institute is doing an admirable task by producing packages under "NIO's Database on Marine Life of India (NIODMLI)". I had the privilege of releasing the first CDROM on Marine Prawns of India, produced by this Centre on January 17, 1998 in Goa. I am delighted to learn about this second CDROM on Marine Crabs of India - a user friendly multimedia package.
The current CDROM on "Marine Crabs of India" collates taxonomy, systematics, morphology, bio-geography and life cycle related information for each of the 75 known species of crabs living in marine and estuarine waters of our country. Interestingly, a search engine called "CRAB SEARCH" allows search and retrieval of information at the click of a button. I am sure that this product would be extremely beneficial to academicians, researchers, students and managers.
I take this opportunity to convey my appreciation of the Center and its staff whose efforts have resulted in this product. I wish them to continue their efforts to provide value added information services to the life science and oceanographic communities within and outside the country.
All the best and Congratulations!!!
[R. A. Mashelkar]