“Plankton Goal,” when scientists, boaters and marine professionals unite for research and the environment

“Plankton Goal,” when scientists, boaters and marine professionals unite for research and the environment

Not a day goes by without hearing about the consequences of climate change. As citizens, it is now possible to contribute to scientific knowledge by participating in numerous research programs open to everyone. We call this “participatory science.” These projects are thriving. Focus on one such measure that celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2024: the Breton Plankton Target programme.

When it was created in 2014 at the National Center for Scientific Culture dedicated to the Oceanopolis Ocean, “Objectif Plankton” was initially an outreach program for the general public.

It is at the heart of the newest Littoral journal to be found france.tv platform

Objectif Plankton is designed to allow boaters to collect seawater and see what can be found in a drop of water.

And then things developed. Céline Lerette, program director, says: “Once the program was launched, the researchers came to us with their interest. They wanted to take seawater samples at different locations in the coastal zone at the same time. They did not have the means to launch 20 oceanographic vessels at once. And this is how Plankton Objectif came into the loop.” “

The full power of this participatory science program lies precisely in organizing and coordinating things in such a way as to provide enough resources and marine hands to take samples at “time T”, in the same ecosystem. For this purpose, Objectif Plankton relies on boat owners and marine professionals such as SNSM, fishermen, oyster farmers, etc. who will voluntarily take samples on the chosen day.

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These operations are organized three times a year in the port of Brest and Lorient as well as in the Gulf of Concarneau.

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Plankton is a microorganism essential to the functioning of our coastal ecosystems. It is often said that it produces 50% of the oxygen in the air we breathe, and that it contributes to climate regulation. It is also the first link in our food chain.

However, coastal areas are subject to various disturbances, of natural and human origin, that can erode habitat diversity and biodiversity.

One of the key questions scientists are asking is whether this erosion of biodiversity could have consequences for the functioning of marine ecosystems and the services they provide to society.

The samples taken are analyzed thanks to the participatory science program Objectif Plancton in different laboratories: at the Sea Institute of the European University (IUEM-UBO), at the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer) and at the Concarneau Marine Station (National Museum of Natural History / Sorbonne University).

We contribute to the transfer of scientific data

At sea, these are often retired boaters but also members of canoeing or canoeing clubs who used to participate in sampling days. “We contribute to the transfer of scientific data, it is the reproduction of samples that will allow scientific teams to know whether these are cyclic or more structural phenomena.” explains Edward Ned, a boater “Then it's our playground, we want to take care of it, and we're really interested in our coast, it allows us to better understand the environment we live in.”

Some seafood specialists are also participating in the programme, such as Julian Romani, a mussel farmer whose farm is based in Groix.

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Like boaters, it collects seawater that will then be deposited at the Concarneau Marine Station. “Plankton is the food for our oysters. If plankton were no longer there, there would be no mold! Oyster producers are health monitors, and we work with live animals that are biological environmental markers.” He explains.

For Julian, the results of the seawater samples are even more important because they will quickly provide him with essential information for his activity:

They are the ones who would point out to me the possible presence of dinophysis, a toxic plankton that prevents mussel consumption..

Ten years after its launch, the existence and usefulness of Plankton Objective seems to have been agreed upon. For scientists, all results processed will gain their full meaning over time.

It has already made it possible to see species invisible to the naked eye that have disappeared along our coasts and those that arrive. The time for science is long, and without participatory science, all these studies would have become impossible.

Céline Lerette concludes her speech with the following:

“I think there is a real enthusiasm for participatory science. It allows us to respond to citizen expectations, to become active. In a pessimistic context, with information circulating about global warming, the fact of saying ‘we can contribute to improving knowledge' brings an important element of positivity, which is an essential contribution.” In science.”

Watch the entire coastal show: “For the record, citizens!” On France.tv channel

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