Thanks to their maritime voyages, Darwin, De Bougainville and La Pérouse
were able to open new doors into the world of knowledge.
At our modest level, we can open a small one by allowing the realization
of an original experiment through a whole ocean.
Oceanscanner is a project that gathers sailors, researchers,
technological companies and artists.
A maritime adventure : to drift across an ocean.
A scientific project: a new method of studying the oceans.
A tool for technological companies to test new equipment.
An artistic project: the making of a film on the birth of an ecosystem and a comic strip that will tell the story of the Earth seen through the action of plankton.
Its objective : to propose to the scientific community an innovative tool for the study
of the oceans, initially in the Atlantic Ocean between the Canary Islands and the Caribbean.
Its operating mode : drift at a speed of about 1 knot (1.8 km/h) on a sailboat braked
by a platform, which will allow surveys and sampling at different depths.
This tool will make it possible to map the composition of the water mass in the ocean layer where light penetrates (photic zone) between 0 and 300 m approximately.
Samples will be collected at different dephts concerning 10 parameters :
Temperature, salinity, density, acidity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll A, turbidity, biomass,
fluorescence, micro-plastics, contaminating substances.
In addition, throughout the crossing, studies will be carried out on the development of biofilms.
Scientists, whether from France or elsewhere, have never had this opportunity.
Although they have oceanographic vessels, sailing boat Tara, buoys and satellites,
they have not yet been able to carry out as many measurements
with such a tight mesh size across an ocean.
Colomban de Vargas, director of the CNRS unit participating in the adventure,
told me that on Tara they had collected « only » about 150 samples.
They stopped the boat, collected samples and sailed another 200 or 300 miles further
to make new measurements.
Here, it will be possible to take samples in the water column continuously at different depths.
The compilation of these surveys and samples will provide an unprecedented view
of the composition of the water column across an entire ocean.
The estimated distance to the Caribbean is approximately 2,800 miles, a little over 5,000 km.
With about 24 miles (45 km) travelled each day, it will take 4/5 months to complete the crossing.
How will the drift speed be obtained ?
Two components : a sailboat and a platform, below the platform a container.
The sailboat, on which no sail will be hoisted, will be pushed by the wind
because of its dunnage, but will be held by the platform.
The sailboat will cross the Atlantic backwards, braked by the platform
which will act as a floating anchor.
A sailboat will join the team 4 times to allow a crew changeover.
A first time halfway between Canary Islands and Cape Verde,
a second time approaching Cape Verde islands area,
a third time before leaving Cape Verde Islands area,
a fourth time halfway along Cap Verde – West Indies road.
This experiment is not a one-shot experience.
It could be renewed through other oceans.