BIOSWOT - Satellites for the study of plankton

In the framework of the BioSWOT project supported by CNES (PI F.d’Ovidio, LOCEAN), the MIO (Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography) has developed a collaboration with SHOM (Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine).

A.Doglioli et G.Grégori have been onboard the BHO Beautemps Beaupré for the PROTEVS1-SWOT2 cruise (PI F.Dumas) in the Occidental Mediterranean Sea, South of the Balearic Islands from April 28th to May 16th. In close interaction with a team on land (A.Petrenko, S.Barrillon, L.Rousselet, M.Thyssen) and in contact with colleagues from the IMEDEA and SOCIB (PI A.Pascual and J.Allen) onboard the r.v. "Garcia del Cid" , the researchers from MIO studied the role played by the currents on the structure and dynamics of the phytoplankton community.

These microorganisms play a major role as they are at the basis of the trophic network, are involved in the cycle of the biogenic elements, and fuel the Ocean in dissolved O2 thanks to the process of primary production. An automated flow cytometer Cytosense (Cytobuoy) has been implemented onboard, on the water supply from the TSG of the ship, to study the phytoplanktonic cells at the single cell level and at high frequency (every half an hour). The cruise sampling strategy has been conducted thanks to a detailed analysis of the near-real time satellite data.


The project website and the NASA Website

See also FUMSECK, a cruise of the project BIOSWOT


  1. PROTEVS : Ocean Forecasting, Turbidity, Flow, Waves and Sedimentology
  2. SWOT : Surface Water and Ocean Topography


Map of FSLE filaments (gray, left) calculated from CMEMS sea level real-time satellite (NRT) data (available from the ODATIS catalog) on 09 May 2018, superimposed on the sampling stations (red crosses) along the trajectory of the BHO Beautemps-Beaupré, and the density of micro-organisms (color pixels) determined on board thanks to an automated flow cytometer (measuring device in the photo on the right). The FSLEs make it possible to follow over time the state of dispersion of the particles in the water. The filament structures evidenced here represent barriers created by the currents that the particles cannot cross. MIO/LOCEAN Crédits.