Objective Plankton, observe the marine biodiversity
The ocean is home to a multitude of organisms that ebb and flow with the currents. Although most of them are invisible to the naked eye, they are still the focus many researchers’ attention! Help them decipher this teeming biological reservoir via the citizen science program Objective Plankton (Objectif Plancton).
Coastal areas are subject to various disturbances, both natural and man-made. One of the major questions scientists are asking is whether these phenomena can have an impact on marine ecosystems. To find out, they are investigating plankton, which alone accounts for more than 95% of marine biomass and has extraordinary biodiversity: microscopic algae, reproductive cells, fish larvae, as well as organisms ranging in size from 0.0001 mm for bacteria and viruses to more than a metre for some jellyfish! A biological treasure trove that’s vital for our coastal ecosystems and for our planet.
Micro-organisms, maxi usefulness
Plankton is the first link in all food chains, and plays an essential role in the life cycle of the ocean and the balance of our planet. Phytoplankton produces more than 50% of the oxygen in the air we breathe and contributes to climate regulation.
Setting a course for Brittany
Coordinated by Océanopolis and managed by the Museum, and in particular its Concarneau Marine Station, along with other parties*, the participative science program Objective Plankton offers a unique opportunity to sample plankton at different points simultaneously: in the natural harbours of Brest and Lorient, and in Concarneau Bay. This region-wide operation is a veritable eco-citizens’ initiative, mobilizing the efforts of private boat owners, associations and sailing clubs such as Les Glénan or sport fishing clubs three times a year on the Breton coast, in support of the scientists. What is the relationship between the composition of the plankton and fish larvae? Why is one species in a certain place at a certain time of the year rather than another? The data collected through the project enables the study of the seasonal variability and distribution of the planktonic community, for a better understanding of coastal and ocean ecosystems. This kind of vigilance is essential given the changes affecting the blue planet, and is made possible thanks to a project you can be part of.
The research work of the Objective Plankton program is structured along two lines of inquiry: one on animal plankton, known as zooplankton (in particular fish larvae), the other on plant plankton, known as phytoplankton. This second line has three facets: the first, environmental, concerns the analysis of nutrients and their link with plant plankton, the second concerns biodiversity and the last focuses on toxic seaweed.
Do you have the opportunity to go on a sea trip? Make the most of it by enrolling in the program. No previous training is required; you just need to follow some simple instructions to ensure your mission goes perfectly. The protocol for collecting plankton, and the procedures to follow to preserve it until you get back on land, are explained. You will be given a sampling kit including nets, a collection tube and Lugol’s solution for storing the samples. The scientists have developed a common methodology and tools for the three sampling sites. They have also defined the physical, chemical and biological parameters to be factored in during the analysis phase: seawater temperature, turbidity (amount of suspended solids), PH (hydrogen potential of the water) salinity, diversity of plant plankton (phytoplankton) and inventory of fish larvae (ichthyoplankton). Thanks to the scientists' insights, you’ll never look at sea water the same way once you're back in port!
Go to the Océanopolis Website.
The Objectif Plancton program is led by Océanopolis Brest. It brings together scientific research bodies (European University Institute of the Sea / IUEM-UBO, University of Western Brittany, Ifremer, National Museum of Natural History, Sorbonne University) and scientific cultural organisations (Explore Fund, Plankton Observatory).