A scientific mission to explore the major unknown marine species of Martinique rich waters
The expedition aims to enhance the current knowledge of marine biodiversity in Martinique by an almost complete inventory of species that are still unknown (algae, sponges, molluscs, crustaceans, echinoderms, tunicates …). It shows a willingness decision makers and managers to have a better understanding of marine ecosystems in order to better preserve them.
“The golden age of exploration, this is today!”
Named Madibenthos, this project is part of the “Acquimart” acquisition of knowledge on the marine environment, managed by the agency of marine protected areas, the direction of environment development , the office of water, the direction of the sea and the local authority of Martinique. “Biodiversity inventory was become obsolete idea,” states Philippe Bouchet, naturalist explorer and expedition leader for the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN). But “in the eighties, the look has changed. We realized that 80% of species needed to be inventoried on Earth and, with the collapse of the cost of DNA analysis, everything became possible. The golden age of exploration, today!”.
Exploration of both Caribbean and Atlantic coasts including fringing reefs which are poorly understood
Surveys will be mainly concentrated in the 0 to 40 m deep. On the menu shore fishing, diving coupled with innovative sampling methods (brushing baskets, underwater vacuum) and the deployment of small gears up to 120 meters.
All types of habitats will be sampled (mangroves, estuaries, soft bottoms, marine plant seagrass, algae, coral communities, underwater caves…), on both the Caribbean and Atlantic coasts. The first expedition pane until September 21, will explore the Caribbean coast and the second will inventory the Atlantic coast from September 25 to 11 October 2016. The Caribbean coast is known for its rich coral reef communities but devoid of any constructions except for its southern part. Beaten by waves, the Atlantic coast, coast or “wind”, is home to barriers or fringing reefs, very little known because of their access more difficult.
The mission also aims to raise public awareness of the beauty and richness of the natural marine heritage through numerous communication actions and recovery.