The MERITE-HIPPOCAMPE campaign is leaving soon !

A team of 16 French and Tunisian scientists will board ANTEA, the offshore vessel of the French Oceanographic Fleet operated by Ifremer, from 13 April to 14 May 2019. This 30-day trans-Mediterranean campaign aims to study the state of health of marine ecosystems, in particular the first links in the pelagic food chain (planktonic organisms), in areas of ecological interest in the northern and southern Mediterranean.

It is organized by the French Oceanographic Fleet, the CNRS, the Research Institute for Development (IRD-France), the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Tunisia, with which are associated French and Tunisian research institutes and laboratories: MIO (IRD/CNRS/AMU/Université de Toulon), Ifremer, INSTM, FSB, IRSN, LISA (CNRS/Universita Di Corsica), IMT-Lille-Douai, LSCE (CEA/CNRS/Université de Versailles/IPSL), CEREGE (IRD/AMU/CNRS/Collège de France).

Called MERITE-HIPPOCAMPE, the main objective of this campaign is to improve our knowledge of the accumulation and transfer of metallic and organic elements resulting from human activities within planktonic organisms - from bacteria to zooplankton - under the influence of atmospheric and continental forcings. For example, researchers will examine the role of the structure and size of planktonic organisms in the accumulation and transfer of these elements, or the role of atmospheric deposition in the spread of anthropogenic inputs to marine waters.

To answer these questions, the scientists, led by team leaders Marc Tedetti (IRD, UMR MIO) and Jacek Tronczynski (Ifremer), will collect water, plankton and atmospheric deposits on board ANTEA over an area of over 1500 km between La Seyne-sur-Mer and Gabès. Major analytical devices and sampling equipment will be deployed to measure a very wide variety of biological, physical and chemical parameters in water, but also within planktonic organisms. A real technical challenge awaits the teams to carry out this work on board the ship, then in the French and Tunisian laboratories.

During its mission, the ANTEA ship will be joined by the Tunisian oceanographic ship Hannibal, chartered by the National Institute of Marine Science and Technology, in order to carry out joint manipulations and thus complete this scientific campaign.

In addition to the research component, training is an integral part of the campaign's objectives. The crew will include three doctoral students and one Tunisian post-doctoral fellow.

A Franco-Tunisian, multi-institutional and interdisciplinary consortium

Oceanographers, chemists, ecotoxicologists, biologists will make up the scientific team. The Franco-Tunisian consortium gathered in this campaign reflects the culmination of several years of scientific cooperation carried out within the framework of international programmes such as the MISTRALS meta-programme and its associated projects, MERMex and ChArMEx, or with the COSYS-Med International Joint Laboratory, which brings together Tunisian and French laboratories to study South Mediterranean ecosystems. This oceanographic campaign will thus make it possible to complete the work undertaken in recent years on the southern and northern shores for a better understanding of the functioning of the Mediterranean marine environment.

Raise public awareness of global changes in the Mediterranean Sea

The vulnerability of the Mediterranean environment to global changes is well established. It is therefore to raise public awareness of the fragility of this ecosystem that scientists will welcome high school students aboard the ANTEA ship during the stopover scheduled for Tunis at the end of April. In addition, the general public will be able to follow the progress of the campaign thanks to a logbook put online and updated by the crew.

This oceanographic campaign is part of the agenda for IRD's 75th anniversary celebrations in 2019, the year in which the Institute will highlight more than ever the richness of partnerships and scientific excellence in addressing major development challenges in the countries of the South.


Representation of the IRD in Tunisia: / +216 50 742 857
IRD South-East Regional Delegation: / + 33 4 91 99 92 40
Mediterranean Institute of Oceanology (MIO):


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