The vast expanses of the high seas are difficult to access, and human presence is only transitory, so they remain largely unknown territories to this day. The facts are simple: some 14,000 pleasure boats visit the deep-sea environment every year, compared with just a hundred or so oceanographic campaigns. On the one hand, scientific expeditions provide high-quality data, obtained using complex protocols and monitored over time; but they are few and far between. On the other hand, yachtsmen – amateur or professional – may not have the technical skills to drive such protocols, but they are far more numerous, and often more flexible in their trajectories.
In Citizen into Science, these 2 worlds are brought together to serve one purpose: to better describe microclimates and surface oceanographic variables (currents, salinity, phytoplankton, etc.) in the vastness of the open ocean, at lower carbon cost. The project takes the form of a low-cost box, developed by French start-up OceanoVox, which will enable yachts to automatically sample the upper layers of the ocean according to protocols drawn up by IFREMER scientists. Its continuous connection to a network of nano-satellites will enable real-time scientific monitoring, while providing network access to remote areas and human communities.
The data will be freely accessible to international scientists, and will feed the databases of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) to create a “digital twin” of the ocean. Disseminating the results to boat owners and the general public will help raise awareness among yachting enthusiasts and democratize ocean sciences.