Françoise Gaill, CNRS : “In order to protect it, we must develop real knowledge of the oceans environment”

Everybody can agree about the urgency of protecting the planet, especially the blue part of it; the ocean and its inhabitants. But, in order to protect it, we must develop real knowledge of the oceans environment – something that is truly lacking today. It is estimated that we have only identified about 10% of the marine biodiversity. We have to spend our time and resources to explore the ocean to be able to understand what species are living there, and what their behaviors are, how they face stressors in their environment, etc. The ocean is the last continent to be fully explored and understood and the Monaco Explorations Campaign is providing the opportunity to fill in a part of this knowledge gap.

What makes this campaign most unique is the opportunity it will provide to study the less visible aspects of the oceans. There are very visible species in the oceans, but what is left unseen is their molecular footprint, their environmental DNA. With this DNA we are able to reconstruct the history of an underwater site to determine which species have been there, and when, etc. For example, there is this assumption that small, uninhabited islands are the last refuges of medium sized fauna. Monaco Explorations is going to allow researchers to test this assumption in remote areas, and on seamounts where fishing is difficult. The results of missions like these will help immensely in showing the immediate need to protect the oceans ecosystems.

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