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Studying the ocean off the coast of Senegal: upwelling and Oxygen Minimum Zones


Samuel Chaffron, Researcher at the CNRS

In episode 30 of the podcast, we are having a conversation with Samuel Chaffron as he shares his experience as chief scientist on board of Tara during one of the legs of Mission Microbiomes, one of AtlantECO’s flagship expeditions. Sam is a researcher from the CNRS, based at the LS2N from the University of Nantes in France, and he was on the boat from Banjul in Gambia to Dakar in Senegal to study the Senegal upwelling.


The interest of the team was to study the pre-upwelling conditions, so these could be compared to measures that have been taken later on by another cruise at the same station locations and using the same OMICS protocols. This collaboration was developed with the French Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD). The team also wanted to characterise the Oxygen Minimum Zone that can be seen off the coast of Senegal, as these can affect the microbiome which in turn can impact the fishing activities that take place there.

Processing samples on board. © Maxime Horlaville - Fondation Tara Ocean

Now the samples have been sent to the sequencing facilities at the Genoscope, the huge amount of data generated will then be compiled and analysed so that we can better understand the functioning of the microbiome and its links to the Ocean health. this will take quite a while so we will have to wait to hear about the outcome of this study.


Sam told us about his experience on Tara, his third to date, and second on the Mission Microbiomes flagship. From living in symbiosis with the teammates to witnessing a pod of dolphins dancing in bioluminescent plankton, he brought back a whole lot of memories that will last a lifetime!


This leg was dedicated to all the women involved in the expedition and the AtlantECO project, as our guest felt it was right to acknowledge the huge contributions made from those on land and at sea, in the labs and on the boat, so that the research can progress and together improve how we understand and manage the ocean.




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